Ayala, et al. v. CITGO Petroleum Corporation, et al./Beazley, et al. v. CITGO Petroleum Corporation, et al. (Circuit Court of Frederick County, Maryland)

Beazley and Ayala are two similar though unrelated cases brought by two groups of homeowners located near two former branded gasoline stations of our client, an oil refiner, in Maryland seeking damages for alleged contamination (including MTBE contamination) of their water supply wells.  In each case, plaintiffs asserted claims against the refiner, its franchisee-marketer and the stations’ owner-operators for negligence, strict liability, trespass and public and private nuisance.  Our client moved to dismiss both complaints for failure to state a claim.  Both motions were subsequently granted (by Judge Byrnes in Beazley on September 14, 2010, and by Judge Tisdale in Ayala on November 30, 2010) on the grounds that plaintiffs could not plead or prove that our client had a right to control the operation of the stations or the underground storage tanks at the stations.