Just Another Guy with Opinions

The Case of the Smoker Next Door

Posted by shadmia on February 12, 2008


Galila Huff, 57, had lived on the 4th floor of the elegant Beaux-Arts Ansonia, on Broadway between 73rd and 74th Streets, for 15 years. She lived alone with her 16-month-old Chihuahua, named Boo-Boo…..and her cigarettes, she was a 40-year, pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker. She never had any trouble with any of the neighbors, that is until the Selbin’s moved in, in 2003. Jonathan and Jenny Selbin have a 4-year-old son, Charlie and they claim in a lawsuit that:

“her habit is polluting their common hallway in the storied Ansonia apartment building and jeopardizing their and their young son’s health….and her “refusal to address the grave danger posed to the health of a small child” shows she has “evil and/or reprehensible motives.”

Jonathan Selbin, 39 said the problem started when duct work resulted in cigarette smoke from Huff’s apartment coming directly into theirs. The building’s board had the ventilation problem fixed, and in November 2006, passed a resolution requiring residents to “eliminate a second-hand smoke situation that originates from their apartment and penetrates to other apartments as well as the public hallway.” The suit says Huff did nothing to solve the problem and the hall still “fills with second-hand smoke on a near daily basis.”

Huff, who owns Caffe La Fenice at Broadway and 69th Street, an expensive Italian restaurant, admitted when reached at home that she was a smoker. She claims that the Selbins have been harassing her for over a year. “It’s unbelievable. They’re turning me into a monster,” she said.

“They live in New York City; what do they expect?” Huff said. “I smell the stinking food of my neighbors.” She continued “I’ve been smoking for 40 years. I’ve tried to quit and I can’t, but nobody tells me what to do in my own home.”

Huff said the dispute – including bitter, back-and-forth letters between the neighbors – has driven her to try to sell her apartment, which she values at $2 million. Huff offered it to the Selbins at a discount.

“I am the quietest neighbor,” Huff said. “I have nobody. It’s me and the dog and the cigarettes.”


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11 Responses to “The Case of the Smoker Next Door”

  1. Louise Dotter said

    Anti-smoking, anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion, anti-right to die, anti-drug and anti-gun fanatics use scare tactics, disinformation and appeals to majority/mob rule to perpetuate their attacks and restrictions on individual freedom of choice. They claim they only want what’s “good” for the public. Public safety, public health, public morality – all have been used to justify unequal taxation, unjust bans/limits and unfair and discriminatory treatment of people with minority opinions/lifestyles. These neophyte Machiavellians need a dose of Mortimer Adler’s ideas – he says:

    “Men in power have often tried to condone their use of violence or fraud by making it appear that their injustice to individuals was for the social good and was, therefore, justified. But since the good society involves justice for all, a government which employs unjust means defeats the end it pretends to serve. You cannot use bad means for a good end any more than you can build a good house out of bad materials.”

    After the Constitutional convention, a lady asked Ben Franklin what kind of government the convention had created. A very old, very tired, and very wise Franklin replied; “A Republic, ma’am if you can keep it.”

    Not only have we failed to keep it, most, including a majority of politicians, don’t even know what it is!
    A Republic is representative government ruled by law (the Constitution). A democracy is direct government ruled by the majority (mob rule). A Republic recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals while democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs (the public good).
    In the current smoking debate, the justification for confiscatory taxes and total ban on smoking in private establishments has been public health and safety in the workplace. Does that public “good” warrant taking away freedom of choice from the 22% of Wisconsin citizens that choose to use a LEGAL substance? What about the business owners’ freedom to choose whether or not a legal substance will be allowed in his business? What about the employee’s freedom to choose a workplace where she can use a legal substance? What about the patron’s freedom to choose an establishment where she can exercise her right to assemble and smoke a legal substance?
    If we continue down this road of restricting peoples’ freedoms for the good of the public, who is going to decide what the “good” is. The current fanatics rely on the gods of science and religion to define what is “good” for all or at least the majority. What happens when there is no majority just warring minorities? We become a splintered society like Islamic nations are today – fighting each other for the right to control other peoples’ behavior.
    Our founders had a much better plan for our society, a secular Republic where
    “Under the law of nature, all men are born free, every one comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will. This is what is called personal liberty.” Thomas Jefferson 1770

  2. Frank said

    OH poor Little Jon Jon,

    What a pinhead…literally & figuratively.When you are friendless,you look for things to occupy your time.

  3. Tony Seal said

    I just watched this story on 20/20. This is unbelievable. I can’t believe the audacity of this guy. One look at his picture and you can tell he is a weasel. He has tormented this poor women and he should be ashamed of himself.

  4. John Rich said

    This is the ultimate weasel lawyer in my humble opinion. Un freakin believable! I am not a smoker. But I feel this man should be disbarred from practicing law. He will one day have to answer to God for how he is treating his fellow human beings. I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes. How does he sleep at night? He appears to be motivated by money and power. I pray that no one hires this man for legal services. I pray that judges everywhere recognize him for what he truly is. We need less peope like him in this world. What good is he doing? He is basically worthless in my viewpoint. Some might say he is the scum of the earth. I would agree with that assesment.

  5. sammy said

    what a jerk this guy is. i don’t smoke but this guy is loser for picking on this lady. i wish i was his neighbor because i would blow smoke in his face everytime i saw him. im surprised somebody from ny hasn’t kicked the crap out of him because that what he deserves. i would like to follow him around all week and just light up one after another and blow smoke right to his shiny bald head. then at the end of the week i would break his glasses and shove them up his ass. its a shame that he has to pick on this lady. somebody please kick his ass and take a picture so jon can put that on 20/20. these are the kind of people i used to beat up when i was a kid. please somebody make this guys life hell. i hope this comes back to get him.

  6. Jon said

    Please let everybody at jonathan selbin office know how you feel the contact info is:

    (212) 355-9500 Work Phone Email

    Please leave a message and let his firm know how you feel.

  7. Jonathan Selbin said

    2109 Broadway

    New York, NY 10023-2106

    (212) 580-0328 Home

  8. Susan said

    What a total ass Selbin is. A true reflection of attorney scum and an embarrasment to the legal system.

    What goes around, comes around tho…..

  9. Nancy said

    I Tivoed 20/20 last nite & just finished watching it this morning.

    Selbin, you & your ridiculous actions & attitude are a snapshot that precisely depicts some of the many things Americans need to address and remedy to return this country back into the “good ole USA”.

    I think that allowing attorneys to advertise is the root of much evil and nonsense. We have an entire generation of Americans that feels as though they’re entitled to compensation for every inconvenience endured.

    And as a class action attorney I’m sure that you and/or your firm advertise incessantly to entice the less intelligent or economically motivated to participate. These poor saps don’t realize that the attorneys make millions on these suits – first in hourly fees and secondly in claiming the bulk of the award as their due – leaving little to be divided among the so-called victims.

    That’s your chosen path to giving back to the world that has obviously given you waaaaay too much?? I hope, if this case took the work of anyone on the city’s payroll, you will be required to repay their salary (rounded up to the next hour just as your billings are) as well as useage fees for every office machine or supply needed to process it. Doesn’t anyone on the bar monitor the actions filed by it’s attorneys?

    A settlement was reached?? I’m sure it required the “penalty” to fall on Ms Huff’s shoulders If American citizens were mandated to “do what makes sense” YOU would be required to compensate her for every penny she spent trying to appease you – an obvious narcissist who perceives everyone else, even his neighbors, as beings who should bend to his wishes because his are of greater importance. (Just realized I need to look up the clinical definition of sociopath).

    I hope that your firm recognizes you as a liability to its reputation and responds accordingly.

  10. Tsk tsk said

    Went to the best schools, has a great job, lots of money, beautiful wife, beautiful child, beautiful home and still not happy, huh? So you have to abuse your power and torment little old ladies for fun. Very sad Jon boy, very sad.

  11. Kit Storm said

    Pathetic. This man is pathetic. How can any human being (I use that loosely) threaten a helpless animal. It takes a VERY small, pathetic, want to be to do that. Pathetic!

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