Appeals court: Madison Square Garden can ban lawyers suing them from entry

A New York appeals court has ruled Madison Square Garden can indeed ban lawyers suing them from attending events at its venues, even if they hold valid tickets, overturning a lower court’s preliminary injunction.

But it's a bit of a split decision. While MSG gets to ban lawyers from sporting events, if they deny them entry to non-sporting events like concerts and shows, MSG may have to pay $500 for each person each time they are denied. On top of that, the person can press criminal charges in what is the equivalent of a misdemeanor.

A spokesperson for MSG tells FOX 5 they are "very pleased with today’s appellate ruling." But the plaintiff says he is ready to get $500 each time he is turned away.

"So we fully intend to exercise our rights to go to events. And if we are denied admission, we will file criminal charges as well as seek the payment of the $500 penalty prescribed in the statute," plaintiff Larry Hutcher told FOX 5. "If Madison Square Garden people want to subject themselves to criminal prosecution by denying us entry, we can live with that."

Hutcher and 50 other lawyers sued after MSG started using facial recognition technology, generally used as a tool for security, to deny entry to all lawyers from law firms engaged in litigation with MSG. Even lawyers not involved in the case in any way are banned.

The ban applies to all MSG venues, including Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theater and more.

In December, they refused to let a mother in as she accompanied her 9-year-old daughter on a Girl Scout outing to the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.

MSG also faces other headaches. The state liquor authority is trying to strip their liquor license at several of its venues for banning the lawyers. 

And the Independent Budget Office issued a report noting that, while the Yankees, Mets and Barclays Center pay combined $167-million a year in equivalent property taxes, MSG pays nothing. And that is something some lawmakers say needs to change.