Lawyer who Defends Corporations Accused of Creating Toxic Pollution Sues Neighbor for Smoking Inside his own House

Thursday, March 26, 2015
Nessa Coppinger (photo: Beveridge & Diamond)

When she’s not defending corporate polluters accused of releasing toxic substances, Nessa Coppinger is in court suing her neighbor for smoking in the privacy of his own home.


Coppinger is a principal of the firm Beveridge & Diamond, where she takes the lead on cases of corporations being sued for harming the environment. One example, found by Republic Report, has Coppinger defending Suncoke Energy, Inc., whose operations have allegedly produced “sludge-like deposits, strong odors, particulates, lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium, creosote, coal tar pitch, coal tar pitch volatiles” hydrocarbons, sulfur dioxide and other substances.


The 38-year-old lawyer, along with her husband, Brendan (also a lawyer) are suing their Washington, D.C., neighbor Edwin Gray because smoke from his cigarettes and marijuana was filtering into the Coppinger’s home.


Nessa Coppinger told The Washington Post that Gray’s smoking was “a health concern” for them and their child. “We don’t smoke,” Coppinger said. “We don’t allow smoking in our home.”


An inspection of the homes found a crack in Gray’s chimney was allowing smoke into the Coppinger home.


They want Gray, and his sister who owns the house, to pay them $500,000 in damages for negligence, nuisance and trespassing, saying the smoke has intruded on their property. They’ve already gotten D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna Lee Beck to issue an order banning smoking in Gray’s house.


“I’m a nervous wreck,” Gray, who lives on disability checks, told The Washington Post. “I’m a grown man. They passed a law that says you can smoke marijuana in my house. I can’t do anything now. What if I’m in here frying chicken and they complain they smell smoke? She going to send the marshals to come get me?”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Lawyer Suing Neighbor for Smoking Is Defender of Corporations Accused of Toxic Smoke (by David Halperin, Republic Report)

D.C. Neighbors’ Sparring Over Secondhand Smoke Lands In Court (by Keith Alexander, Washington Post)

See all 11 comments


Containtheweed 2 years ago
I am also being affected by my neighbor's marijuana and cigarette smoke entering into my home through the adjoining walls and there are 4 people in the home smoking, so I smell it morning noon and night. The smoke increased when marijuana was legalized in DC. People who want to smoke should seal their homes or move to a detached home. I cannot wait to find a new detached home. Smokers need to be more considerate, compassionate, and responsible for who they affect when smoking.
Discouragedpatriot 9 years ago
Response to Jim's comment. Have you seen how much money people on welfare make. Plus free phone, housing, healthcare, college education and food. The lawyers are probably making less!
Jim 9 years ago
Why are two lawyers living beside people that live on welfare?? Sounds weird!!!! way more to this story
Scott Hill 9 years ago
Ok, so I *did* read the Washington Post coverage. Unless the house next door was on fire, the amount of smoke seeping through cracks in the shared wall is unlikely to be as big a deal as she says. Why didn't she simply fix the cracks on her side of the wall? Nope, this is just another scumbag lawyer.
lame 9 years ago
biased/one-sided article. Read the washington post's coverage of this story for a more detailed version.
ana 9 years ago
Oh, wait, now whe's gonna sue us for calling her a bitch
ana 9 years ago
agree with j, what a bitch, you can read it in her face.
me 9 years ago
That's someone that uses the justice system at their dispense. They stand up for thing that they don't believe in, only until it affects them personally... 9 years ago
This is a new case and probably will be appeals and more suing. Best case is for the individual to get video evidence to defend the case. Nevertheless reminds me the the 2010 oil spill by BP in the GUlf of Mexico.
j 9 years ago
what a bitch. some one need to sue her for being raciest.

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