Galila Huff, 57, had lived on the 4th floor of the elegant Beaux-Arts Ansonia, on Broadway between 73rd and 74th Streets, for 15 years. She lived alone with her 16-month-old Chihuahua, named Boo-Boo.....and her cigarettes, she was a 40-year, pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker. She never had any trouble with any of the neighbors, that is until the Selbin's moved in, in 2003. Jonathan and Jenny Selbin have a 4-year-old son, Charlie and they claim in a lawsuit that:
"her habit is polluting their common hallway in the storied Ansonia apartment building and jeopardizing their and their young son's health....and her "refusal to address the grave danger posed to the health of a small child" shows she has "evil and/or reprehensible motives."
Jonathan Selbin, 39 said the problem started when duct work resulted in cigarette smoke from Huff's apartment coming directly into theirs. The building's board had the ventilation problem fixed, and in November 2006, passed a resolution requiring residents to "eliminate a second-hand smoke situation that originates from their apartment and penetrates to other apartments as well as the public hallway." The suit says Huff did nothing to solve the problem and the hall still "fills with second-hand smoke on a near daily basis."
Huff, who owns Caffe La Fenice at Broadway and 69th Street, an expensive Italian restaurant, admitted when reached at home that she was a smoker. She claims that the Selbins have been harassing her for over a year. "It's unbelievable. They're turning me into a monster," she said.
"They live in New York City; what do they expect?" Huff said. "I smell the stinking food of my neighbors." She continued "I've been smoking for 40 years. I've tried to quit and I can't, but nobody tells me what to do in my own home."
Huff said the dispute - including bitter, back-and-forth letters between the neighbors - has driven her to try to sell her apartment, which she values at $2 million. Huff offered it to the Selbins at a discount.
"I am the quietest neighbor," Huff said. "I have nobody. It's me and the dog and the cigarettes."