Make us your home page
Instagram

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 pryan@tampabay.com.

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

Loading...
  1. Gay, black leaders speak about finding their place

    Relationships

    When Lillian Dunlap moved to Florida at age 52 in 1999 she could finally breathe. The journalism professor from the University of Missouri and the University of Indiana hadn't been able live openly as a gay woman until then. She had considered coming out before but never did.

    Terri Lipsey Scott (standing) welcomed panelists Bob Devin Jones, Desmond Clark, Lillian Dunlap, Trevor Pettiford and Sheree Greer. Moderator Nadine Smith not pictured.
  2. Bar review: Les Partners Lounge goes old-school in Clearwater

    Bars & Spirits

    There are some local places that I'm shocked aren't more well known, and I think that's the result of a general aversion to stepping out of one's comfort zone. I make regular concerted efforts to step outside of mine, which often leads me to strange and rewarding drinking establishments.

    Les Partners Lounge is an old-school, smoker-friendly cocktail lounge and live music venue tucked away in a nondescript shopping plaza in Island Estates.
  3. Local craft beer of the week: Plongeur a L'eponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.

    Bars & Spirits

    Tarpon Springs' Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. has a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to wild ale brewing, utilizing an open brewing approach involving uncovered fermenters in order to brew beer with local ambient microbes, reminiscent in some ways to the fermentation techniques used by rustic farmhouse breweries in Belgium …

     Plongeur a?€š€™L?ˆš??ponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Company, 6/23/17  Electric Chair Sour Shandy, Angry Chair Brewing, 6/30/17   Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA, Motorworks Brewing 7/7/17
  4. No tapes: Trump says he didn't record meetings with Comey

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday he "did not make" and doesn't have any recordings of his private conversations with ousted FBI Director James Comey, speaking up on Twitter after a month-long guessing game that began with him delivering an ominous warning and ended with his administration ensnared …

    President Donald Trump speaks during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington. [AP Photo/Evan Vucci]
  5. Ramadan having an economic impact on local charities, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Dodging the rain, a few families and customers gathered inside Petra Restaurant on Busch Boulevard. Around 8:30 p.m., the adham (or call to prayer) music begins, signaling Iftar, the end of the daily fast. Customers grabbed a plate to dig into the feast.

    Baha Abdullah, 35, the owner of the Sultan Market makes kataif, a common dessert that is eaten during the month long celebration of Ramadan in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]