Announcement regarding the effective prevention intervention for the prohibition of smoking in public places: the Supreme Court accepted an appeal on this issue, and established that class action suits may be filed for the violation of the prohibition against smoking in public places. This encompasses claims amounting to millions of NIS in any case of exposure to (secondhand) tobacco smoke.
The Israel Cancer Association (ICA) appeared in this case as a "Friend of the Court (Amicus Curiae)".
At noon on May 11, 2015, the Higher Court of Justice accepted the appeal on the judgment of the District Court in Tel Aviv on this issue, in a proceeding in which the Israel Cancer Association joined as a "Friend of the Court", represented by Attorney Amos Hausner. (Proceeding details: Civil Appeal 414/14 Efrati v. Espresso Bar Ltd.).
With Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, Judge Naor, and Judges Hendel and Solberg presiding, it was established that class action suits may be filed by any individual who is exposed to smoking in public places. A doubt that has existed up until now has been removed: the District Court reasoned that since a criminal proceeding may be held against businesses and entertainment venues, and even banquet halls - the option of a contemporaneous class action was ruled out.
The appeal relating to this matter was accepted on May 11th as aforementioned.
From here on in, there is no longer a doubt regarding this issue, and in any case of exposure to smoking, one has the option of filing a lawsuit, which may be centralized into a class action.
A class action signifies that a person exposed to tobacco smoke has the option of filing a suit: on his behalf and on behalf of any other individual who is exposed to smoking in the same public place, even if this involves thousands of people or more; each individual is entitled to compensation amounting to an estimated NIS 1000, in any case of exposure. Consequently, large sums are involved here, and could amount to several millions.
The ICA commends this fundamental ruling. The Association encouraged the filing of private lawsuits at the time, and even trained students on how to assist private individuals in filing such actions. When private (not class) actions were only partially successful, class actions became an important component in the enforcement of the law prohibiting smoking in public places, which many business owners regrettably ignore and fail to enforce.
According to Attorney Hausner: "It is clear that such businesses are currently vulnerable to lawsuits amounting to millions, in view of today's Supreme Court ruling".
The ICA hopes that smoking in public places will be reduced, and that there will no longer be a need for filing such actions.
As previously mentioned, the appeal was accepted, and the case was returned to the District Court for further proceedings.