MSG uses facial recognition to kick out attorney whose firm is in litigation with James Dolan's company
New York Knicks owner James Dolan is doing everything he can to keep his supposed enemies from attending events at venues owned by his company.
Multiple attorneys who work for law firms in active litigation against Madison Square Garden Entertainment have been barred from entering events owned by Dolan and MSG Entertainment.
One of the most recent examples of this is Kelly Conlon, who was escorted out of Radio City Music Hall last month after facial recognition software identified her as an attorney for the New Jersey-based firm Davis, Saperstein and Salomon. Her firm is involved in a personal injury lawsuit against a restaurant owned by MSG Entertainment.
“They said my firm was on the attorney exclusion list and escorted me out,” Conlon told the New York Post. “I was caught off-guard — I just complied with what they asked me to do and I left my daughter inside the venue with her troops. I had driven multiple people in my car so I couldn’t leave to go home."
Conlon was forced to wait outside while her 9-year-old daughter’s Girl Scout troop watched the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
A sign at the venue did alert patrons that MSG uses “biometric identifier information” as a security measure. The New York Times investigated this in 2018, though a spokesperson for the Garden declined to elaborate or answer questions about the technology.
MSG Entertainment defended its policy in a statement to the Post, explaining that its "straightforward policy" would be lifted after litigation ended.
"We cannot ignore the fact that litigation creates an inherently adversarial environment," MSG said in a statement. “All impacted attorneys were notified of the policy, including Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, which was notified twice. In this particular situation, only the one attorney who chose to attend despite being notified in advance that she would be denied entry, was not permitted to enter, and the rest of her group — including the Girl Scouts — were all able to attend and enjoy the show.”
MSG banned other lawyers
Nicole Landi, a Manhattan-based personal injury firm, sued Dolan on Dec. 17 after she was asked to leave Mariah Carey's “Merry Christmas To All Show” at Madison Square Garden. Her firm, Burns & Harris, represents a client who sued the venue after the client claimed she suffered an injury while walking on a staircase in the venue. The firm reportedly received a letter a month prior that banned them from attending events at MSG, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theater and the Hulu Theater at MSG.
“By continuing to impose bans against adverse attorneys, despite this court’s recent order in the Hutcher matter, MSG makes clear that it intends to intimidate adverse litigants by any means necessary,” Landi’s lawsuit states.
Five lawyers from Greenberg Law, P.C. were told by an MSG attorney on Nov. 28 they were also forbidden from attending MSG-owned events. They were alerted the same day their firm filed a lawsuit against MSG on behalf of a man who was sucker-punched at a New York Rangers game in June.
“We expect this particular suit to be over soon and look forward to welcoming back the attorneys from Greenberg Law P.C.," a spokesperon for MSG Entertainment told the Post.
Larry Hutcher, a 50-year Knicks season ticket holder, was also told he and the rest of his firm couldn't attend Dolan-owned venues. Their firm represented 24 Knicks season ticket holders who filed a lawsuit against the Garden when their tickets were not renewed because they sold them on secondary markets. A Manhattan judge later ruled that Dolan can't ban Hutcher from his other venues — just MSG.
“They were under the belief that they could bar anybody at any time for no reason at all,” Hutcher told the New York Daily News in November. “Rather than just defend the case on the merits, Dolan said we’re going to ban you and all the lawyers in your firm.”
Dolan's other enemies
Dolan's enemy list isn't reserved for just lawyers.
Knicks legend Charles Oakley was forcibly removed from MSG in 2017 after an alleged altercation with security. Criminal charges against Oakley were eventually dropped in 2018, but Oakley and Dolan have been at odds ever since.
Renowned director, producer, screenwriter and actor Spike Lee was caught in Dolan's crosshairs in 2020 after he said he was harassed by Dolan for using the wrong entrance at MSG. Lee later said he wouldn't attend any more Knicks home games before he returned to the Garden in 2021.