Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Valrico dentist asks judge to clear the air with next-door cigar shop

VALRICO — Dentist Edmund Rahal doesn't smoke. Owners of the Twisted Cigar don't do root canals. But their businesses exist side by side in the same suburban shopping center.

Since the cigar lounge opened three months ago, Dr. Rahal's patients have noticed his dental practice smells like an ash tray.

He wants a judge to intervene.

"When my assistant goes home, her husband can actually smell smoke on her clothes," said Rahal, 64, who set up the office on Lithia Pinecrest Road about 23 years ago.

Rahal already has tried appealing to his landlord and the cigar shop operators. Last week, he filed a complaint in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, seeking both temporary and permanent injunctions to bar the odors.

The court filing alleges "noxious, unhealthful, damaging, disagreeable and offensive odors and stenches," making the dental office "unpleasant, uncomfortable, unhealthy and unfit for human habitation."

It reads like an allergy drug ad, with talk of "burning and watering eyes, coughing, headaches, sneezing, stuffiness, runny nose and wheezing."

Twisted Cigar opened Oct. 1, operated by Jim and Tracy Brown and a partner, Ivo Medina. The website calls it a "work free smoke place."

Flat-screen TVs and bar stools encourage lingering. The parking lot attracts pickup trucks and Bentleys. Inside, guests can choose from rows of cigars or find Wiley pipes ranging from $200 to $2,000.

Jim Brown said the shop has tried to contain odors by resealing drywall and putting a smoke filter in the dentist office air conditioning unit. It was supposed to catch particles even tinier than smoke.

"We didn't know there was still a problem," he said.

Rahal said the smell is worse than ever. He hired Tampa lawyer Gregory E. Mierzwinski and started having the receptionist keep track of unsolicited complaints from patients.

His own complaint was assigned to Circuit Civil Judge Christopher C. Sabella. (Not a smoker, the judge's aide says.)

Rahal doesn't feel great about suing anyone, especially a landlord he likes. He wishes he had been consulted before the cigar shop was signed. Along with Twisted Cigar, his complaint names "3632 Lithia Pinecrest Rd LLC." A representative did not respond to an interview request. The case has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

The circumstances are rare, said Jeremy E. Slusher, a landlord-tenant expert who is board-certified in business litigation. Slusher, who has no connection to the case, is a lawyer at Broad and Cassel in West Palm Beach.

"Landlords in general have an obligation to provide usable premises," he said. " 'Quiet enjoyment' is the legal term. 'Quiet' does not necessarily mean volumewise. You get to use your premises without being interfered with by others.

"Similarly, your neighboring tenant would have an obligation not to create a nuisance."

Twisted Cigar wants to be a good neighbor, Brown said.

The dentist knows how that's supposed to work.

He remembers a good neighbor. Once, the tenant next door was a State Farm agent. Quiet. No smoke.

He remembers those days wistfully.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Staff writer Patty Ryan can be reached at (813) 226-3382 or [email protected]

Valrico dentist asks judge to clear the air with next-door cigar shop 01/12/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 3:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Bruno Mars' charisma glitters like gold at Tampa's Amalie Arena


    Nothing in this world should be as easy as Bruno Mars makes it look. Not singing, not dancing, and certainly not playfully seducing more than 17,500 starry-eyed Tampa fans with one of pop music’s best bands at your back.

    Bruno Mars performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Oct. 19, 2017.
  2. Mikhail Sergachev scores twice as Lightning shuts out Blue Jackets (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev said he blacked out for a few seconds after his first NHL goal Thursday night, a rocket slap shot from the point.

    Mikhail Sergachev, front, looks like he’s very in the moment with teammate Dan Girardi after scoring his first NHL goal, though he says he blacked out for a bit. He scores again in the second.
  3. Dodgers rout Cubs 11-1 to win pennant, head to World Series for first time since '88


    CHICAGO — Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

    The Dodgers celebrate their Game 5 victory Thursday night over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, putting Los Angeles in the World Series for the first time since 1988.
  4. Another suspicious death in Tampa's Seminole Heights


    TAMPA — Police were investigating what they were calling a suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night, near the location of two fatal shootings last week.

    Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan addresses reporters about the latest suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL | Times]
  5. Duke tops preseason coaches' basketball poll; Gators No. 7


    Duke has been tabbed basketball's preseason No. 1 for the second straight season in the coaches' poll, released Thursday.

    Florida point guard Chris Chiozza launches the shot of last season’s NCAA Tournament, a winning 3
against Wisconsin that put the Gators into the Elite Eight. Chiozza returns to lead a UF team that’s getting its share of preseason attention, including a No. 7 ranking in the coaches’ poll.