Tenants in Famous NYC Building Sue Neighbor over Second-Hand Smoke

February 11, 2008

A couple in a famed apartment building that has been home to celebrities such as Angelina Jolie are suing a neighbor over her heavy smoking.

Lawyers Jonathan and Jenny Needleman Selbin say in a lawsuit filed Thursday that their home in the Ansonia on Manhattan’s Upper West Side “smells like a casino” because a chain-smoking neighbor, Galila Huff, filled their apartment and the hallways with smoke almost daily from their arrival in 2003 until last year.

Huff admitted when reached at home that she was a smoker. She said she knew about the lawsuit but could not discuss it.

Huff’s smoke sometimes came directly into the Selbins’ apartment through vents from shared duct work, court papers say. The couple said they worried about the “grave danger” the secondhand smoke posed to their son Charlie, who is now nearly 4.

The attorney couple said Friday that the building’s management renovated the ducts in early 2007 and mostly fixed that problem, but the renovations did nothing to address the secondhand smoke wafting through the hallways.

“Visitors regularly comment on the smoke and have noted that it ‘smells like a casino’ in the common hallway,” the Selbins’ court papers say.

In their lawsuit, filed in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court, the Selbins said they complained to Huff about the smoke but she “intentionally, recklessly and/or negligently” endangered their health and that of their son.

The Selbins asked the court to prohibit Huff from allowing her smoke to permeate the common hallway, and to award the couple unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and legal fees.

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