Smoking ban lawsuit advancing

WELLSBURG — A suit against the Brooke County Health Department alleging it acted beyond its state-given powers by banning smoking in all public places will move forward, following 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jason Cuomo’s ruling Wednesday not to dismiss the case.

Filed by attorney Dan Guida, the suit blames the ban for a loss in millions of dollars in revenue at video lottery casinos owned by Wheeling Coin LLC, Follsban LLC and Elm Room Inc.

Guida said the West Virginia Limited Video Lottery Act of 2001 establishes the state as responsible solely for regulation of the casinos.

Brooke County Prosecutor Joseph Barki III had moved for the dismissal of the suit, which also was filed against the Brooke County Commission, on the grounds the commission doesn’t set the health board’s policy.

Barki said the commission’s involvement is limited to appointing the board’s members and funding the health department, as dictated by the state.

Guida disputed that claim, noting the Jefferson County Commission was held responsible for legal fees in a 1996 case against the Jefferson County Solid Waste Authority, which also had been appointed and funded by that commission.

A future hearing on the case is pending a response by Barki to the judge’s ruling.