Entertainment & Sports Law

Lawyer banned from Madison Square Garden isn't entitled to injunction, New York appeals court rules

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A lawyer banned from Madison Square Garden after suing the venue isn’t entitled to an injunction forcing Madison Square Garden to admit him and his colleagues to events, according to a New York appeals court.

The lawyer, Larry Hutcher, had sued after the Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. revoked his season tickets to New York Knicks games and banned every lawyer in his law firm from the location. The lawyers were banned because Hutcher was representing ticket resellers in a previous lawsuit against Madison Square Garden.

A trial judge correctly ruled in November 2022 that New York civil rights law requires Madison Square Garden to admit anyone who arrives at the venue with valid tickets to a theatrical performance or a musical concert, said the Appellate Division’s First Judicial Department of the New York State Supreme Court in its March 28 opinion.

And the trial judge correctly ruled that Madison Square Garden can ban the lawyers from sporting events because they are not covered by the civil rights law, the appeals court said.

But the appeals court said it was improper for the trial judge to issue a preliminary injunction requiring Madison Square Garden to admit people with valid tickets to concerts and theatrical performances. The civil rights law provides for a monetary remedy when it is violated, and Hutcher is limited to that remedy, the appeals court concluded.

“Even if injunctive relief were available,” the appeals court added, “the existence of a statutory damages remedy would undermine plaintiffs’ claims of irreparable harm,” which is an injunction requirement.

Hutcher, a name partner with Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, told Bloomberg Law that the penalty for violating New York’s civil rights law is $500.

“Basically. what the court is inviting us to do is go to the event and get a check for $500 every time we are denied admission,” he told Bloomberg Law.

A spokesperson for Madison Square Garden told Bloomberg Law that it was “very pleased” with the decision.

A different lawyer was denied admission to see a show featuring the Rockettes in December 2022, after facial recognition technology identified her as a lawyer with Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, which has sued a related venue.

Publications with news of the decision include Bloomberg Law, the Legal Profession Blog and Sportico.

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