Man Dies of Heart Attack after Being Told Not to Smoke in Elevator, Now Family Is Suing

Who is to blame when two men argue because one of them is smoking in the elevator, and then dies of a heart attack moments later? The family of the deceased smoker is now suing the man who told him not to smoke.

In early May of this year, security cameras captured how an elderly man lit a cigarette in the elevator of an apartment building in Zhengzhou, Henan province. When another man also gets into the elevator, he points at the man’s cigarette and objects to his smoking.

Security cameras captured how the man lit a cigarette in the elevator.

The two men end up in a dispute over the smoking, which also continues when they exit the building. CCTV cameras from inside the building’s lobby and from the other side of the street record how neighbors interfere and separate the two men from each other.

Yang Jun (alias) speaks to the man who is smoking in the elevator.

The argument, which remains verbal and does not become physical, stops when the two men each go their own way. Not much later, the elderly man suddenly passes away due to heart failure.

The dispute continues outside

Neighbours interfere and separate the two men.

This incident is now at the center of a remarkable court case, in which family members of the man who smoked in the elevator are suing the other man over his death. Although the deceased man was known to have dealt with a heart condition before, his family blame the heated discussion for his sudden death. They are seeking a compensation of CNY 400,000 (±60,000$).

The man they are suing is the 37-year old Yang Jun (alias), who is a doctor by profession.

This week, the court ruled that it can not be fully proven that Yang Jun is responsible for the man’s sudden heart failure and that he, therefore, does not need to pay the CNY 400,000 that is demanded by the family.

The court, however, did hold rule that Mr. Yang needs to pay a total of CNY 15,000 (±2260$) as compensation to the family, as a matter of “principle of fairness” (公平原则).

The family is appealing the court decision.

The story, that is reported by The Paper and other Chinese media outlets, has triggered discussions on social media.

Many netizens object to the court’s decision. “The old man probably died because of smoking, the doctor cannot be burdened with this,” some comment.

There are also people who offer to contribute money for Yang to pay the man’s family. “By this decision, the court is actually choosing the side of the evildoers,” some say.

“Poor doctor, who could have imagined it would end this way? Can’t we even tell people not to smoke now anymore?”

By Manya Koetse

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