In a setback for Maryland's last drive-in theatre, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has turned aside a request by the owner of Baltimore County's Bengies Drive-In to reinstate a jury verdict ordering Royal Farms to pay for a fence to keep light from one of its stores from encroaching on his property.
In a decision issued Wednesday, Judge Andrea M. Leahy wrote that Baltimore Circuit Judge Robert Cahill was correct in setting aside the $838,000 jury verdict, which was reached following a June 2012 trial. Evidence presented in the circuit court case "did not support a private nuisance action," and thus the jury erred in ruling in the Bengies' favor, Leahy wrote. The opinion concludes by noting, "We do not believe the evidence at trial shows that the Royal Farms lights will substantially impact Bengies' continuing vitality as Maryland's last remaining outdoor drive-in theatre."
Bengies owner D. Edward Vogel, whose theater sits across Eastern Boulevard from the Royal Farms store in question, pledged to appeal the decision to the Maryland Court of Appeals. "It sure does take the wind out of my sails temporarily," said Vogel, who contends that light from the Royal Farms is a distraction to some of his patrons and that the continuing dispute has forced him to put on hold plans for installing a second outdoor screen at the theater and jeopardizes the Bengies' future.