Madison Square Garden misinterpreted ethics rules when it barred the firm’s attorneys from venues, the lawsuit alleges
Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. broke New York City laws when she banned nearly 60 attorneys from Madison Square Garden venues for using a “thin’ ethical justification, according to a lawsuit filed last week.
The real reason for the ban on lawyers for Davidoff Hutcher & Citron is the firm’s earlier lawsuit against Madison Square Garden on behalf of ticket resellers, the Oct. 13 lawsuit states.
Name partner Larry Hutcher is the lead counsel in the previous case. The new suit says he’s particularly affected because he has two season tickets to New York Knicks games that have been revoked. He has had the tickets since 1976 and risks losing his seat if the tickets are given to anyone else.
“Though he faithfully renewed that subscription at his great cost through null championships, long playoff droughts, postseason misses and coaching chairs, he was still unceremoniously dumped by MSG without warning simply for fulfilling his ethical responsibilities to his clients.” , the lawsuit says Hutcher.
Hutcher filed the new lawsuit along with a colleague, Joseph Polito. Both are also among the nearly 60 plaintiffs. The defendants in the lawsuit are Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. and the attorney who sent the ban notice, Harold Weidenfeld — the company’s senior vice president of legal and business affairs.
The previous lawsuit was filed on Sept. 7 on behalf of 24 ticket resellers alleging that Madison Square Garden violated New York law by refusing to renew their season tickets to Knicks and New York Rangers games. Two weeks later, Madison Square Garden sent a written notice of the ban to Davidoff Hutcher & Citron.
“In one fell swoop,” the lawsuit states, “nearly 60 attorneys, almost all of whom have no involvement or knowledge of litigation, are now pariahs, causing them irreparable harm.”
Hutcher, in his new suit, says Madison Square Garden misread the ethical rules of attorneys when he explained one of the justifications for the ban. The venue said it barred the firm’s attorneys from discussing the litigation with a Madison Square Garden employee because they are barred under Rule 4.2 of the New York Code of Conduct.
According to the lawsuit, this is based on a “misinterpretation” of the code of ethics. The idea that an attorney from Hutcher’s firm would discuss the substance of the lawsuit during a sporting event or concert “is nothing more than a flimsy, untenable pretext to justify the infantile behavior of MSG directors,” says the Legal action.
Additionally, the lawsuit states, the ethics rule applies only to attorney discussions with employees who have the authority to bind Madison Square Garden that influence the litigation.
“How many MSG employees fall into this narrow category?” the suit asks. “The odds of a single plaintiff discussing the issue of the litigation with this MSG employee are astronomical. There are better chances of being struck by lightning or the Knicks winning the NBA championship this year.”
Publications covering the lawsuit include the Associated Press, the New York Post and the New York Times.