This morning’s Globe article, “Suit Over Secondhand Smoke Targets Broker,” has gotten a lot of attention from readers on the paper’s parent website, boston.com, who are calling the suit “ridiculous,” “outrageous,” and “over the top.”
The plaintiff, Alyssa Burrage, is suing her real estate broker, Joseph DeAngelo, for damages to her health. According to Burrage, her broker originally assured her that the smell of cigarette smoke that filled the apartment would disappear after her planned renovations and painting were completed, but when the $45,000 in renovations were finished and the smell hadn’t yet vanished Burrage traced the source of the smell to Michael Schofield, who had been living and smoking in the apartment below hers for thirteen years. Edward J. Allan, Schofield’s roommate and the owner of the apartment, claims to have hired a contractor to seal their apartment and bought an air purifier, but Burrage, who lived in the apartment for two years, claimed that her asthma steadily worsened until she decided to move out. (Schofield, Allan, and the condominium association were all sued as well but decided to settle privately yesterday.) The suit yet to be settled, however, is that of the broker, DeAngelo, who claims to “never [have] made any misrepresentations, or any representations at all, concerning the source of the alleged smoke smell.’’ Burrage alleges however, that not only was DeAngelo notified of the smell during their first visit to the condo, but that she also noticed him burning scented candles at an open house. Jonathan Saltzman, the author of the article, writes, “the case against DeAngelo is expected to raise thorny questions about the rights of people to smoke inside their own apartments and the duties of real estate brokers to disclose accurate information about smoking to prospective buyers.” For Globe readers, on the other hand, the case against DeAngelo caused them to reply to the article with over 500 comments, some of which I will post here:
Boston-Heather wrote, “Bottom line, she smelled smoke before she bought it. She knew there was a problem and moved in anyways!! And then she sues her neighbors and her agent because of it? What would happen if the neighbor downstairs didn’t smoke and then sold their unit to a chain smoker? Would the agent still be responsible? Of course not. While I feel for Ms Burrage’s problem with Asthma, this is a bit over the top. She shouldn’t have selected a 100+ year old building to move into. She should have picked a newly built unit with better ventilation for her condition.”
mggio wrote, “This is ridiculous. If she can’t deal with the fact one of her neighbors might smoke, she should go buy a house out in the woods away from everyone. Or at least she should buy a condo that has a “no smoking” clause in the condo agreement. I hope this is thrown out and she is ordered to pay court costs and lawyers fees for the defendant.”
Liverty76 wrote, “This is outrageous. This woman sues her neighbors because they smoke in their own home and she asks them to pay a contractor to seal their unit. She should have paid to have her own unit sealed. I pray that this case is tossed before we start rolling over the edge of that slippery slope. The fact that the neighbor settled out of court because it was cheaper amounts to extortion. Baseless allegations have no place in our courts.
I fully expect this will result in more freedom lost in Massachusetts. Can’t wait until the law dictates what you can and can’t do within the confines of your own home.
Someone with asthma as obviously severe as this woman’s should perhaps not live in such an old building, but perhaps should consider a bubble.”