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The Maryland Historical Society has sued a brewery company based in Waverly for $15,000 plus legal fees for breach of contract involving an old baseball photograph used for beer packaging. The trial is scheduled to begin today.

The lawsuit — which was filed in January and first reported by City Paper — centers on a picture from the early 1930s of former Oriole Frederick "Fritz" Maisel attempting to score a run. The photograph, which the Historical Society alleges it obtained from the brother of veteran Baltimore Sun photographer Robert F. Knieche, is used prominently on packaging of Peabody Heights Brewery's Old Oriole Park Bohemian beer.

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Filed in Baltimore District Court, the suit alleges that brewery general manager J. Hollis Albert III sent an order form last May obtained from a Historical Society staff member requesting digital reproduction of the Maisel photo and others from the collection to be used around the brewery's tasting room. Through an email with the Historical Society, Albert noted he believed the photos were public domain, according to the lawsuit.

In mid-May, an invoice of $15,000 plus taxes was sent to the brewery from Joe Tropea, digital projects manager for the Historical Society. The Historical Society alleges Albert agreed to the fee during a phone call around this time.

But a month later, Albert emailed Tropea to express dissatisfaction with the terms, according to the lawsuit. The email stated because the brewery's packaging had to go to print, Peabody was no longer requesting use of the Historical Society's photographs, and instead used images already "in its possession." Later, the complaint alleges, Albert told the Historical Society the company would not pay for the images because he believed they were public domain.

The Historical Society is suing for two counts of breach of contract (for the Maisel photograph on the beer packaging, and images the organization alleges it has seen in the tasting room) and one count of unjust enrichment. The Historical Society believes they own the only prints of these photographs, according to the lawsuit.

Through a spokeswoman, the Maryland Historical Society declined to comment, citing policy on active legal matters. Peabody Heights Brewery, which opened in 2013, did not respond to requests for comment.

The trial has been delayed multiple times, and a motion by the brewery for a jury trial was denied.

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