A judge in Washington, DC, recently ruled that a man could not smoke in his home. The case involves a long-time occupant, Edwin Gray, of a row house and his new neighbors, the Coppingers, who moved in next door after their unit had been remodeled. The two units have a wall in common. Gray smokes both cigarettes and marijuana and the smoke goes through the shared wall into the other unit’s bedroom and child’s playroom. The Coppingers, a couple in their 30s with an 18-month old and another baby on the way, often were awakened by the smell of smoke and they stated that it could take hours for the smell to dissipate.
The Coppingers sued for negligence, nuisance, and trespassing after informal efforts to address the problem failed. Investigators who went out during earlier parts of the court proceedings found there were cracks in the common wall and that the Gray’s chimney was decaying so that smoke from the Gray’s house would vent into the Coppingers’. The Coppingers made several written offers to contribute toward fixing the physical issues, but the owner of Gray’s house, his sister, never answered the offers. The judge issued an injunction that will stay in place until the trial takes place in the Fall.