‘Chain smoking’ NYC tenant can keep puffing in apartment: judge

A Manhattan tenant accused of annoying neighbors by chain smoking in her apartment during the coronavirus lockdown can continue to light up for now, a judge ruled Thursday.

The owners of the Yorkville apartment building filed suit last month asking a judge to intervene in a dispute between tenants Deborah Schevill — who allegedly smokes round-the-clock in her fourth-floor apartment — and upstairs neighbor Marianne Spinelli who claims she was “violently ill” from Schevill’s fumes.

But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arlene Bluth denied building owner J & P Realty, LLC’s request to bar Schevill from smoking in her own apartment because the evidence doesn’t prove “that the smoke complained about is coming exclusively from Schevill or that it is so pervasive that it constitutes a nuisance.”

J & P Realty, “cannot show that the smoke is so pervasive or unreasonable that it merits the issuing of injunctive relief nor can it show that the smoke is emanating from Schevill’s apartment (there are other smokers in the building),” the decision reads.

The judge noted that Spinelli, 66, didn’t make any sworn statement in the case about the effects the smoke has on her or how she knows that it’s coming from Schevill’s apartment.

Bluth also said that legally there is nothing barring Schevill from smoking in her unit as her lease doesn’t have a provision about not smoking.

While Schevill, 74, can smoke in her apartment with the door closed, she cannot smoke in any common areas of the building, the ruling said.

“To be clear, the Court is not making a finding that plaintiff’s case completely lacks merit or that the complaints from Spinelli are not genuine,” Bluth wrote.

But, Bluth said, “The papers submitted here show that the landlord has received numerous complaints about a condition, but there is no direct evidence about the scope, severity or origin of that issue.”

The judge made the temporary order until the case is litigated and until she eventually makes a final ruling.

The April 29 lawsuit claimed that since tenants were home all day amid the pandemic, “Schevill continues to chain-smoke within her apartment,” which “has led to a permanent odor of secondhand smoke within the hallway outside Apartment 5-C and often spreads to the floor below and surrounding areas.”

And Spinelli — who has lived in a fifth-floor unit since 1977 — has complained that the smoke is causing burning in her sinuses and lungs, migraines and loss of sleep, the court filing said. She also claimed she has to wear a scarf and mask indoors.

“She smokes incessantly,” Spinelli told The Post at the time adding that she is allergic to smoke.

J & P Realty lawyer David Rosenbaum told The Post, “The landlord felt that it had provided sufficient evidence to obtain an interim injunction, but the judge thought otherwise.”

A lawyer for Schevill did not immediately return a request for comment.

Spinelli did not immediately return a request for comment.

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