WHEELING - A member of the state's House of Delegates who is running for a spot in the House of Representatives is suing the director of the Wheeling-Ohio Health Department.
Chris Wakim, a Republican from Ohio County, and his wife Jeannette filed the lawsuit Sept. 1 in Ohio Circuit Court against William Mercer, both individually and as the director of the health department.
The Wakims are suing as Foundation Corp., doing business as the Tropicana bar. The bar has received attention from the health department for not complying with the county's clean-air laws.
"Defendant Mercer, individually and as an agent of the Defendant Board of Health, intentionally subjected plaintiff to arbitrary treatment lacking in fundamental fairness, directly affecting the liberty/property interests of plaintiff Foundation," the complaint says.
The complaint adds that Mercer has singled out the Tropicana for its noncompliance while other businesses have violated the same regulations.
The video lottery room in the Tropicana is in question, considering an exemption to the public smoking ban was given to Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming Center and limited video lottery rooms.
Mercer told The State Journal that the Wakims have created a huge smoking room and are not exempt under the county's ordinance. Since the room contains a jukebox, pool table and other games, it can't be considered a video lottery room.
He also claimed it was the first time a public health director has been sued as an individual for doing his job.
Paul Farris, a Wheeling attorney, is representing Wakim.
Mercer filed suit in July 2005 against Foundation to impose the ordinance on it.