Some Successful Lawsuits:
Assault and Battery
Using assault and battery laws is a relatively new, and still largely untested, strategy in the fight for clean air. So far, civil court judges in California, Georgia and Ohio have agreed that battery, which usually involves touching someone against his or her will, can apply to tobacco smoke. A smoker who knows that someone nearby is unusually sensitive to tobacco smoke and who continues to smoke in that person’s presence is a potential target for a civil assault suit.72
Ms. Portenier provided her employer with a letter from a pulmonary specialist advising that she should avoid exposure to smoke. Still, nothing was done about the thick office smoke, despite a formal corporate no smoking policy.73 Ms. Portenier went to court, charging assault and battery. After losing its bid for dismissal, the company settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.74
72 Woo, J. Blowing smoke around others may be battery. Wall Street Journal, April 11, 1994, B1, B11.
73 Sweda, E. Summary of Legal Cases Regarding Smoking in the Workplace and Other Places. Boston, MA: Northeastern University School of Law Tobacco Control Resource Center, May 2000.
74 Silverstein, S. & Olmos, D. Smoldering legal issue. Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1994.