Sharpe v. Board of Trustees, Maine State Retirement System,

.  The Board of Trustees denied a disability pension to a woman who asserts that her disability is the result of aggravation of heart and lung conditions caused by a work environment polluted by tobacco smoke.  The Board ruled that she had not proven that her heart and lung problems were caused by her work environment.  A Justice of the Superior Court (Alexander, J.) sustained Ms. Sharpe’s petition for review, ruling that the Board of Trustees “erred as a matter of law in its consideration of the causation question.  Ms. Sharpe worked in a small, congested office where the windows were kept shut as a matter of office policy and where the “air in this room during working hours was smoky, heavy and foul smelling.  There was no fresh air; the air in the room was continually recirculated.”  The court recognized that “the danger of cigarette smoke to nonsmokers is a significant health problem.”  The court also cited the “fallacy of the Board’s all or nothing approach to causation determinations” and recognized “the substantial likelihood that the petitioner may be able to make a presentation which will demonstrate that her working conditions precipitated her disability, even if they did not create the medical problems which ultimately led to her disability.”

Civil Action No. CV82-57, Superior Court of Maine, Kennebec County, 1982 Me. Super. LEXIS 34.