Tuesday, March 28, 2023

No Injunctive Relief For Attorney Banned From Madison Square Garden

The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department vacated an injunction issued against Madison Square Garden in a matter banning an attorney from entry

The motion court properly concluded that Civil Rights Law § 40-b requires the admission of plaintiffs to venues controlled by defendants if they arrive at the venue after it opens on the date of a theatrical performance or musical concert with valid tickets thereto. We reject the invitation of amicus curiae the New York State Trial Lawyers Association to treat defendant Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. as a common carrier with a more limited right to exclude.

The motion court properly excluded sporting events from its holding because Civil Rights Law § 40-b is specifically limited in application to "legitimate theatres, burlesque theatres, music halls, opera houses, concert halls and circuses" (see Madden v Queens County Jockey Club, Inc. , 296 NY 249, 254, 256 [1947], cert denied 332 US 761 [1947]; Impastato v Hellman Enters. , 147 AD2d 788, 790 [3d Dept 1989]; Mandel v Brooklyn Natl. League Baseball Club Inc. , 179 Misc 27, 28-29 [Sup Ct, Bronx County 1942]). Although Madison Square Garden is a multi-purpose venue that sometimes functions as a concert hall or theatre and other times as a sporting arena, we find that it only falls within the ambit of Civil Rights Law § 40-b when it is being used for an enumerated purpose.

However, it was improper for the motion court to issue a preliminary injunction. As Civil Rights Law § 41 prescribes a monetary remedy for violations of Civil Rights Law § 40-b, plaintiffs are limited to that remedy (see Woollcott v Shubert , 169 App Div 194, 197 [1st Dept 1915] ["The general rule is that where a statute creates a right and prescribes a remedy for its violation that remedy is exclusive and neither an action for damages nor for an injunction can be maintained"]; O'Connor v 11 W. 30th St. Rest. Corp. , 1995 US Dist LEXIS 8085, *20, 1995 WL 354904, *6 [SD NY June 1, 1995]; see also Drinkhouse v Parka Corp. , 3 NY2d 82, 88 [1957], superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Alan J. Waintraub, PLLC v 97-17 Realty, LLC , 2020 NY Slip Op 34502[U], *10-11 [Civ Ct, Queens County 2020]; Broughton v Dona , 101 AD2d 897, 898 [3d Dept 1984], lv dismissed 63 NY2d 769 [1984]). Even if injunctive relief were available, the existence of a statutory damages remedy would undermine plaintiffs' claims of irreparable harm (see Civil Rights Law § 41; Woolcott , 169 AD at 199).

From Fox 5

The lawyer ban came to light in October 2022 when Hutcher, a New York Knicks season ticket holder for nearly 50 years, was told his seats had been revoked because his law firm was representing ticket resellers that were suing MSG.

He filed a lawsuit in response, claiming he and nearly 60 lawyers from his firm were barred from the company's properties. Hutcher said in the suit 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.

(Mike Frisch)


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