Entertainment & Sports Law

Madison Square Garden lifts ban on some lawyers as it explores sale of Tao Group

  • Print

shutterstock_Madison Square Gardenshutterstock_Madison Square Garden

Image from Shutterstock.

The Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. has made a change to a policy that bans lawyers from its venues if they have "active litigation against the company."

In an announcement Monday, Madison Square Garden Entertainment said it was creating an exception for lawyers suing entities owned by Tao Group Hospitality, while Madison Square Garden Entertainment explores a sale of its majority interest in Tao Group Hospitality. Other lawyers suing Madison Square Garden Entertainment and its entities are still banned.

The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard have coverage.

Tao Group Hospitality owns entertainment, dining and nightlife venues, according to a Feb. 6 press release. Madison Square Garden Entertainment separately owns venues that include Madison Square Garden, the Radio City Music Hall, the Hulu Theater and the Beacon Theatre.

Madison Square Garden Entertainment is using facial recognition technology to ban lawyers litigating against the company and lawyers from their law firms. One lawyer was ousted from the Radio City Music Hall when she was taking her daughter to see a show there as part of a Girl Scouts field trip.

Madison Square Garden Entertainment also refused to issue season tickets to New York Knicks games to a lawyer suing Madison Square Garden on behalf of ticket resellers.

“Effective immediately,” Madison Square Garden Entertainment said in a press release, “the company has lifted the adverse attorney policy for any litigation currently pending with Tao entities. Accordingly, all attorneys employed at the firms involved may attend events at MSG Entertainment’s venues, and those firms will all be notified. The policy remains in place for all other firms [pursuing] active litigation against the company.”

Also Monday, Madison Square Garden Entertainment voluntarily participated in an interview with the New York State Liquor Authority, the company said in a separate press release.

The liquor authority is considering whether the ban on lawyers violates regulations requiring holders of liquor licenses to be open to the public, Reuters explains.

“We are hopeful our participation and transparency will put an end to this investigation and ensure our fans continue to have an exceptional experience in our venues,” the press release said.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is also investigating whether the lawyer ban could violate human rights laws, including laws preventing retaliation, according to a Jan. 25 press release.

Madison Square Garden Entertainment said in a statement last month its ban doesn’t apply to lawyers representing plaintiffs who allege sexual harassment or employment discrimination, Law.com reports.

The New York State Bar Association, meanwhile, plans to study the “legal and ethical implications” of companies using facial recognition technology to ban adversary attorneys and other lawyers working at their firms.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Madison Square Garden misinterpreted ethics rules when it banned firm’s lawyers from venues, suit says”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.