As the secondhand smoke case opened on Monday, in the Prince George's County Circuit Court, Michael Goecke, the associate attorney for GHI, moved that the punitive damages against Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (GHI) be dismissed.
In David Schuman's case against GHI, his housing cooperative, which claims it had failed to prohibit the nuisance created by his townhome neighbors, the Popovics', secondhand smoke, Schuman is seeking $300,000 in punitive damages plus an additional $300,000 in compensatory damages.
Schuman’s lawyer, J.P. Szymkowicz, argued against dropping the punitive damages, accusing GHI of steadfastly refusing to exercise its authority. He said GHI must protect the tenants' rights to quietly enjoy their property.
After the plaintiff's and defense's attorneys debated the matter, Judge Albert Northrop weighed in, saying "I can't find any basis for punitive damages," then dismissed the claim for punitive damages.
Goecke also moved for the judge to dismiss the negligence claim. This time, Judge Northrop did not concur and ruled that the claim will remain for further review.