A lawsuit over secondhand smoke that goes to trial today in Boston will decide whether the real estate practitioner who represented the now-unhappy buyer is liable for damages over smoke that is wafting from a neighboring apartment.

While secondhand smoke has been a target of many lawsuits, a suit that alleges that the real estate professional representing the buyer can be held liable for failing to inform her that there could be secondhand smoke is a first in Massachusetts and, possibly, anywhere.

Real Estate Associate Joseph DeAngelo and Gibson Sotheby's International Realty, with whom he's associated, deny that Alyssa Burrage, who suffers from asthma, asked any questions about smoke in the condo before she purchased it.

DeAngelo never made any misrepresentations, or any representations at all, concerning the source of the alleged smoke smell,'' DeAngelo's lawyer, Jay S. Gregory of Boston, said in the filing.

The smoker, who lives in the apartment below, and the condominium association were also sued and settled to avoid a trial.

Richard Daynard, chairman of Northeastern University's Tobacco Products Liability Project, which tracks secondhand smoke litigation nationally, said the outcome of this suit could have broad repercussions.

Source: Boston Globe, Jonathan Salzman (02/09/2010)