An attorney who has owned New York Knicks season tickets for nearly 50 years has sued Madison Square Garden Entertainment claiming that he and nearly 60 lawyers from his firm were barred from the company’s properties.
Larry Hutcher said in the suit filed in state court Thursday that MSG took the action against he and his partners at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP after he became lead counsel for 24 ticket resellers who were suing MSG for violating New York’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Law.
Two weeks later, Hutcher received a letter informing him that the attorneys were barred and that his tickets, which he owned since 1976 and had already paid to renew for this season, were revoked.
“Even though he faithfully renewed this subscription to his great expense through zero championships, long playoff droughts, postseason failures, and coaching musical chairs he was still summarily discarded by MSG without warning solely because he fulfilled his ethical duties to his clients,” the suit says.
MSG said it instituted a policy in June that precludes attorneys from firms engaged in litigation against the company from attending events at its venues until that litigation has been resolved.
“While we understand this is disappointing to some individuals, MSG has both a right and obligation to protect itself during litigation procedures,” an MSG spokeswoman said in a statement. “We cannot ignore the fact that litigation creates an inherently adversarial environment, and an ancillary consequence of that is our need to protect against improper disclosure and discovery.”
The ban not only applies to Knicks and Rangers games at Madison Square Garden, but also concerts at the venue and its properties such as Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theater.
Hutcher’s suit argues that there is no need to fear any conflicts with attorneys attending events because anyone working for MSG at one would not only need to have knowledge of any litigation, but would need to have the authority “to bind MSG to a decision that will impact the subject litigation.”
“How many MSG employees fall into this limited category?” the suit says. “The odds of an individual plaintiff discussing the subject of the litigation with that MSG employees are astronomical. There are better odds of being struck by lightning or the Knicks winning the NBA championship this year.”
Bans are not uncommon at MSG under James Dolan. Even former Knicks star Charles Oakley got one after he was critical of the team’s owner and then kicked out of the arena while attending a game.
Besides monetary damages, the suit seeks Hutcher’s season tickets to be reinstated in time for this season and the ban against the attorneys to be lifted immediately.