Court authorizes NIS 7m. anti-smoking class action against club

Precedent-setting suit comes against a TA dance club for failing to enforce no-smoking laws.

public smoking 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
public smoking 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
A district court judge has agreed for the first time to certify a class action suit - for NIS 7 million - against a dance club in Tel Aviv for failing to enforce no-smoking laws, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Until now, class-action petitions regarding smoking in eating places were resolved via settlement, with fines of various types against the owners - such as at the Foccacia restaurant in Jerusalem, which had to compensate nonsmoking customers with free meals. The precedent-setting case will be heard in a few months by judge Michal Nadav, who ruled that the law has to be enforced even in relatively small clubs, to protect the rights of nonsmokers and to deter violators. The Bella Shlomkin's pub, located on Tel Aviv's Rehov Noah Mozes, could be subject to payment of NIS 1,000 to each of more than 6,000 nonsmoking customers who visited the place on Friday nights - when special events were held there for Russian speakers - between January and August 2008. Lawyer Amos Hausner filed the suit on behalf of Mark Litvin and his wife Yelena, along with Maxim Teoteonik, all immigrants from the former Soviet Union, the club's main clientele on weekends. Hausner, who is chairman of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking, said he received other complaints from non-Russian speakers about smoking at Bella Shlomkin's. At a preliminary hearing this week, David Assaf, who does not know the plaintiffs, testified that he was ejected from the club by manager Ron Fire after asking that the incessant smoking of customers be stopped. The judge also said that the silent owner of the club, Fire's mother, could be held responsible for the violations, even though she does not run it and was not there when the incidents occurred. Nadav said that there is a basic human right of the individual to protect his health. Exposure of nonsmokers to tobacco smoke - which causes illness, disability and 10,000 Israeli deaths per year - is illegal in public places, and owners are required to ensure that the law is observed. The judge also said that even though two of the plaintiffs are former smokers, they had a right to sue, as their quitting reflects their awareness of the dangers.