MSG Drops Venue Ban for Lawyers Involved in Tao Group Litigation As It Preps Sale
The company will terminate the controversial policy for some attorneys as it prepares to unload the hospitality group, though employees at firms involved in non-Tao lawsuits will still be shut out.
It’s a banner day for New York attorney Kurt Dominic Robertson, who is no longer persona non grata at the world’s most famous arena.
The same goes for the attorneys at Los Angeles law firm Wilshire Law Group, New York lawyer Laura Rosenberg and non-lawyer Ryan Kenneth Randall, a Las Vegas resident representing himself in a lawsuit filed against Tao Group, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the “guy who punched me at 10:30 pm on a Saturday Memorial Day Weekend the police took into custody.”
Robertson and those others are all involved in litigation against Madison Square Garden-owned Tao Group and were barred from entering the Manhattan arena or any other MSG property under a controversial policy enacted by chairman James Dolan last year. But that all changed today when the company announced it was selling Tao Group and lifting “the adverse attorney policy for any litigation currently pending with Tao entities.” MSG paid $181 million for a 62.5% interest in the hospitality group in 2017.
“This is great news,” says attorney Kurt Robertson, who was banned from MSG properties for representing a client in a personal injury lawsuit filed against a Tao venue in Manhattan.
“When I first got the letter about the ban, I thought it was a prank,” Robertson continues. After calling MSG’s lawyers and learning that the ban was being enforced via facial recognition software, he says, “I decided I wasn’t going to test the policy” and allow himself to be made an example of by MSG security staff.
Robertson and other attorneys suing Tao are no longer barred from entering any MSG-owned property, including the Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theater, the Chicago Theatre and the soon-to-open Sphere in Las Vegas.
Attorneys suing other MSGE entities, along with all attorneys at their law firms, are still banned from entering all MSGE-owned facilities and risk being escorted off the premises by MSG staff if they are recognized by MSG’s facial recognition software.
The controversial rule, affecting an estimated 90 law firms, is currently being challenged by a number of private law firms along with Attorney General Letitia James, who voiced concern in a Jan. 24 letter that any attempts by MSG “to dissuade individuals from filing discrimination complaints or encouraging those in active litigation to drop their lawsuits so they may access popular entertainment events at the Company’s venues may violate state and city laws prohibiting retaliation.”
James also warned that “research suggests that the Company’s use of facial recognition software may be plagued with biases and false positives against people of color and women.”
MSGE stock was up about 2% in after-market trading on the news.