Choose slams James Dolan for 'completely loopy' facial recognition ban on authorized foes from venues


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A decide branded James Dolan’s use of facial recognition to ban attorneys whose companies are concerned in lawsuits towards his companies from venues like Madison Sq. Backyard as “completely loopy,” in keeping with a report by the New York Submit.

Dolan, the 67-year-old billionaire who’s govt chairman and chief govt officer of MSG Leisure and in addition govt chairman of MSG Sports activities, despatched a letter final June to legal professionals at 90 companies concerned in lawsuits towards his enterprise ventures to keep away from his venues to keep away from “improper disclosures.” MSG Leisure operates venues together with Madison Sq. Backyard and Radio Metropolis Music Corridor, amongst others.

Dolan’s ban got here up in courtroom earlier than Delaware Chancery Court docket Choose Kathaleen McCormick, who known as the ban “the stupidest factor I’ve ever heard” in an early November listening to with legal professionals on Zoom based mostly on a transcript reviewed by the New York Submit.


James Dolan, govt chairman and Madison Sq. Backyard CEO, watches a recreation between the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings in New York, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photograph / Kathy Willens)

McCormick went on to handle Dolan’s declare about potential improper disclosures stemming from legal professionals attending his corporations’ venues, and she or he reportedly stated they could do “one thing as horrific as watch a play, a sporting occasion, order a sizzling canine, or use the loos, these kinds of threatening acts.”

The Submit reported that McCormick likened the scenario to a “plaintiff suing a McDonald’s or Walmart and getting a letter from these establishments saying: ‘In the event you try to purchase a Large Mac, you understand, we’re going to kick you out.'”

The Zoom listening to involved a lawsuit filed by shareholders claiming that MSG Leisure overpaid when it purchased the Dolan-owned MSG Networks for $900 million in 2021. The shareholders accused Dolan of “pettiness” and bullying” in his enterprise practices. McCormick stated a facial recognition crackdown at MSG and different venues “raises questions on how he handles his fiduciary obligations to the corporate,” per the Submit.


An exterior view of Madison Square Garden

Madison Sq. Backyard is proven on Dec. 5, 2022, in New York Metropolis. (Bruce Bennett / Getty Pictures / Getty Pictures)

Dolan’s ban on opposition attorneys has resulted in a number of weird incidents, a few of which concerned attorneys who aren’t straight concerned with the contentious lawsuits.

Late final yr, an legal professional whose agency was suing considered one of Dolan’s companies however wasn’t concerned with the case was blocked from coming into Madison Sq. Backyard along with her daughter’s Lady Scouts troop to attend a Rockettes present and needed to wait exterior within the rain.

A spokesperson for MSG instructed Wholesome Residing Group that the corporate has “instituted a simple coverage that precludes attorneys from companies pursuing energetic litigation towards the Firm from attending occasions at our venues till that litigation has been resolved.”


Rockettes rehearsal

Members of the Radio Metropolis Rockettes rehearse for the “2022 Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio Metropolis Rockettes” in New York Metropolis, Oct. 19, 2022. (Reuters / Eduardo Munoz / Reuters Images)

“Whereas we perceive this coverage is disappointing to some, we can not ignore the truth that litigation creates an inherently adversarial setting,” the assertion continued. “All impacted attorneys have been notified of the coverage. We proceed to clarify that impacted attorneys will probably be welcomed again to our venues upon decision of the litigation.”

MSG Leisure declined to touch upon the decide’s feedback concerning the ban on attorneys from companies concerned in lawsuits towards Dolan’s corporations.

Dolan’s use of facial recognition to ban patrons who’re affiliated with legislation companies concerned with lawsuits towards his corporations has drawn the ire of native lawmakers who warned that the usage of facial recognition in enterprise grudges “units a harmful precedent.” The group famous in a launch, “As a spot of public lodging, MSG Leisure has a authorized obligation to New Yorkers and most people to guard them towards discrimination and stop harassing them.”

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MSG Leisure instructed Wholesome Residing Group that the corporate operates venues which might be “worldwide locations and a number of other sit on main transit hubs within the coronary heart of New York. We now have all the time made clear to our visitors and to the general public that we use facial recognition as considered one of our instruments to offer a secure and safe setting for our clients and ourselves.”

“The facial recognition know-how system doesn’t retain photographs of people apart from those that have been beforehand suggested they’re prohibited from coming into our venues or whose earlier misconduct in our venues has recognized them as a safety threat,” the spokesperson additional defined.

Fox Enterprise’ Julia Musto and Daniella Genovese contributed to this report.

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