This is a guest post by David Halperin, originally published at Republic Report.
There’s been recent media coverage of how two Washington DC lawyers named Brendan and Nessa Coppinger have sued and convinced a local judge to issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting their neighbor, Edwin Gray, from smoking in his Capitol Hill row house, which adjoins theirs.
Gray has lived in his home for 51 years; the Coppingers moved into theirs last fall. The Coppingers say that cigarette and marijuana smoke is seeping into their bedroom and their child’s bedroom. The Washington Post quoted Nessa Coppinger, 38 and pregnant with the couple’s second child, as saying, “This is a health concern. We don’t smoke. We don’t allow smoking in our home.” They are seeking $500,000 in damages from Gray and his sister, who owns the house.
I don’t begrudge the Coppingers for seeking to be free of harmful smoke. And they say they tried to reach agreement with their neighbor to fix the ventilation situation before filing suit. (Gray’s sister says she didn’t like the terms the Coppingers presented.)
What interested me about the case was that the Post and other media sources described Nessa Coppinger as “an environmental lawyer.” In Washington, that could mean a number of things. So I looked her up. For Nessa Coppinger, a principal of the 95-lawyer firm Beveridge & Diamond, it means that some of her accomplishments are explained on the firm’s website like this: