2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

JURY SLAPS HOA IN SECONDHAND SMOKE DISPUTE

Published: March 13, 2013, 12:33 pm, by Bill Vogrin

smoker

Smoking has been banned from most public buildings. It is forbidden in restaurants and bars. It is outlawed in airplanes and generally is socially unacceptable.

Is the battle of the butts now coming to homeowners associations? Don’t HOAs have enough to worry about already?

Better add it to the list, I’m afraid, of issues facing the boards and management companies of HOAs.

Consider this: A jury in Orange County, Calif., has found an HOA board negligent for failing to resolve a secondhand smoke dispute between neighbors at a  condominium.

The dispute involved a couple upset that their neighbors smoked heavily on their patio and sidewalk. The couple said the smoke aggravated their son’s asthma. Eventually, the family moved to escape the smoke and sued in March 2011.

After a five-week trial, jurors recently awarded the smoke-averse family $15,500, finding the condo association and management failed to ensure the non-smoking family’s right to the “quiet enjoyment” of their own unit.

The family received $6,000 was for economic damages and $9,500 for emotional distress. The HOA was responsible for 60 percent of the damages, with the remainder to be paid by the management company and tenants.

Smoke has been an issue in the Colorado Springs area.

Side Streets has featured a neighborhood dispute over smoke from cigars and cigarettes infiltrating a neighboring townhome.

I’ve written about hospital employees angering neighbors by puffing on nearby sidewalks.

Another column focused on smoke from a neighbor’s fireplace choking a neighbor in her home.

And I even wrote about smoke from a backyard fire pit igniting a neighborhood feud.

Follow this link to the entire Orange County Register story.

About 35 feet separate the chimney of Rachel Catt's rental home on Jon Street, left, from neighbor Luanne Wiley's home on Corbett Lane on the right. Neighbors say the wood-burning stove inside produces choking smoke that infiltrates Wiley's home.

About 35 feet separate the chimney of Rachel Catt’s rental home on Jon Street, left, from neighbor Luanne Wiley’s home on Corbett Lane on the right. Neighbors say the wood-burning stove inside produces choking smoke that infiltrates Wiley’s home.

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This link takes you to a Side Streets column on Oct. 11, 2012,  about a dispute over a smoking chimney.

To read about the smoking dispute between residents of Boulder Park neighborhood and the employees and patients of  Memorial Hospital, click here.

To read more about the 2008 smoke feud at the Woodbridge Townhomes in Colorado Springs, click here.

Follow this link to my 2006 column about the fire pit feud.

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