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Monitoring Property & the Built Environment

Totem Beverages, Inc. v. Great Falls-Cascade County City-County Board of Health

Overview

Totem Beverages, Inc. v. Great Falls-Cascade County City-County Board of Health (Supreme Court of Montana, Nov. 19, 2019): The Montana Supreme Court reversed a grant of summary judgment favoring bar operators (Totem) regarding the validity of a Board of Health’s smoking regulations defining permissible smoking shelters. The Montana Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) regulations prohibit smoking in “enclosed” rooms where people work. The smoking prohibition does not apply to areas completely or “partially open” to outside air. The court concluded the Board’s definition of permissible “smoking shelters” as “unenclosed shelters” containing a permanent opening of 20% (or more) of the square footage of the vertical plane forming a shelter’s interior was consistent with the MCIAA and DHHS’ regulations. The Board’s 20% requirement clarified what “partially open” means and furthered MCIAA’s goal of promoting public health at work. Summary judgment for Totem was therefore inappropriate. The court, however, reversed summary judgment in favor of the Board on Totem’s selective enforcement claim, in which Totem alleged the Board improperly singled out Totem when it issued a notice to stop allowing smoking in an enclosed public place. Read the decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – February 18, 2020.

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