A hot Friday night, but people are still showing up a few hours before the first movie at Bengie's Drive-In to stake out a spot. A blanket on a flatbed is their way to relax.
"It's something different for kids," said Donta Harris, who brought his family from York, PA.
Outside of his outdoor movie theater, it's been no joy ride for the owner of Bengie's. Royal Farms moved in across Eastern Blvd. in Middle River four years ago.
You've heard of being too close to the screen, well owner D. Edward Vogel says the lights from the gas station are too close for business. So he went forward with a lawsuit.
"We have many tolerant patrons. If you were to sit here, if you try to send them in that direction they're going to tell you they want to be over here," said Vogel.
Robert Perkins brings his family from Perryville; he's noticed the difference.
"It's not unwatchable but it used to be a lot better. It used to be a lot darker on the screen," said Perkins.
On Friday, a Baltimore County jury awarded Bengie's $838,000, enough to build a 25-foot high fence to block the lights. The attorney for Royal Farms believes the jurors were most interested in helping the business that's been around since 1956. There's one Bengie's but 142 Royal Farms.
"I’m saying the jury got it wrong," said Alan Abramowitz. "It's clear from the decision that the jury wanted to protect Bengie's and didn't follow the court's instructions," he said.
Vogel says more customers have come out since the lights went up across the street. But he did not install a second screen since he was in a legal battle.
Vogel isn't certain if he'll see a dime of the jury's award, but for a moment he's enjoying what he considers a win.
Those lights don't seem to bother the people who keep coming back.
"It doesn't stop me from coming. It's still a great value for the family," said Perkins.
Abramowitz says he will file a motion with the judge. That has to be done in 10 days. He says most likely it will lead to an appeal.
Right now, there are no immediate plans to put up that 25-foot fence around Bengie's.
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