Upper East Side woman, 74, is sued by landlord after ‘making her neighbors sick by chain-smoking inside her own apartment during coronavirus lockdown’
- Manhattan property management company is suing Deborah Schevill, 74, accusing her of chain-smoking inside her unit in violation of no-smoking policy
- Schevill’s upstairs neighbor Marianne Spinelli, 66, has complained her conduct, saying she is allergic to cigarette and pot smoke coming from downstairs unit
- Spinelli is also being sued for allegedly refusing to let her landlord inside her apartment to seal any openings
- Schevill, who’s lived in her rent-controlled apartment for more than 30 years, claims she had quit smoking ‘some time ago’
- She blamed Spinelli’s respiratory problems on mold, or other smokers in the building
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
A neighbors’ feud between two elderly women living in rent-controlled apartments on Manhattan’s Upper East Side took an ugly turn this week when their landlord filed a lawsuit over one of the tenants’ incessant smoking, claiming that it was making the other violently ill.
The 12-page complaint, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday on behalf of the property management company J & P Reality, alleges that 74-year-old Deborah Schevill’s smoking habit has long been a cause of complaints from her upstairs neighbor Marianne Spinelli.
And it says the problem has intensified since the outbreak of COVID-19, which has forced many residents ‘to be home twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.’
Schevill and Spinelli both have lived in the building in the 400 block of East 83rd Street for more than 30 years, with the former occupying unit 4D and the latter 5C.
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A Manhattan property management company is suing Deborah Schevill, 74, a tenant at this five-story building on East 83rd Street, accusing her of chain-smoking inside her unit and causing harm to her upstairs neighbor, Marianne Spinelli
The lawsuit obtained by DailyMail,com says that the five-story apartment building in March adopted a no-smoking policy, barring tenants from indulging their nicotine habit anywhere on the property.
But according to the complaint, Schevill has continued puffing away on both tobacco and marijuana cigarettes inside her unit, claiming that she has an ‘unfettered right’ to do so.
As a result, the hallways and common areas inside the building have become permeated with the noxious smell of smoke.
The smoke is said to be so concentrated in her upstairs neighbor’s unit it is ‘constituting a physical assault, burning her lungs an sinuses and causing a loss of sleep.’
The lawsuit alleges that Spinelli, 66, who is said to be allergic to smoke, has been suffering from burning in her sinuses, eyes and lungs.
The ‘heavy smoke’ rising from Schevill’s apartment allegedly has made Spinelli ‘violently ill’ with migraine headaches and forced her to sleep in a mask and scarf on her face.
The lawsuit also names Spinelli as a defendant alongside Schevill, claiming that the woman has been refusing to let anyone from the management company into her apartment to assess the situation and make repairs by sealing any openings.
According to the court filing, the 74-year-old Schevill has admitted to chain-smoking inside her apartment and has refused to take any steps to stop the spread of second-hand smoke to others in the building.
But in an interview with the New York Daily News, the woman claimed to have quit the habit ‘some time ago.’ She also blamed her upstairs neighbor’s respiratory problems on mold, ‘hallucinations,’ or other smokers purportedly living in the building.
In March, the building adopted a strict no-smoking policy, barring tenants from smoking anywhere on the property, but Schevill allegedly has continued puffing away
‘Schevill is aware of Spinelli’s complaints and allegations, but refuses to cease smoking within her apartment or to take steps to mitigate the spread of secondhand smoke emanating from her apartment,’ states the lawsuit. ‘Schevill insists that she is not in the wrong.’
The management company’s complaint argues that Schivelli’s smoking is ‘objectionable in it [sic] of itself, and even mote so during the Coronavirus Pandemic,’ when residents are confined to their apartments.
J & P Reality is seeking $10,000 in legal fees from Schevill and a promise that she will stop smoking inside the building.