Madison Square Garden is accusing the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) of “colluding” with lawyers over an investigation that threatens to strip the World’s Most Famous Arena of its alcohol licence.
It was revealed last December that Madison Square Garden Company was using facial recognition technology to prevent “attorneys from firms pursuing active litigation against the company” from entering its venues. The ban covers venues including MSG, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and the Chicago Theatre.
Lawyers reported to have been removed from shows include Grant & Eisenhofer’s Barbara Hart, who was escorted out of MSG by security guards prior to a Brandi Carlile concert, and Davis, Saperstein & Solomon’s Kelly Conlon, who was asked to leave an event at Radio City Music Hall.
MSG Company faces a lawsuit from “dozens of attorneys and their firms” over the approach, but has defended its use of face-scanning tech, which it has deployed since at least 2018, “to provide a safe and secure environment”.
The SLA filed administrative charges against MSG in March over the policy, saying it violates state liquor laws. However, the New York Post reports MSG has filed a lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court, seeking phone records for part-time SLA investigator Charles Stravalle.
“THE SLA IS MISUSING ITS ENFORCEMENT POWERS AT THE BEHEST OF POLITICALLY INFLUENTIAL LAWYERS”
It claims that he carried out the SLA investigation “at the behest” of the banned lawyers, thus resulting in the “bogus administrative charges”.
MSG’s suit alleges the lawyers “have sought to weaponise the SLA to harass MSG and threaten the loss of MSG’s liquor licences,” adding, “the collusion between the SLA and these attorneys is without question”.
“The SLA is misusing its enforcement powers at the behest of politically influential lawyers, who sued MSG (some repeatedly) and have thus been excluded from MSG’s events while that litigation is pending,” it adds.
In a statement, MSG co-counsel Jim Walden of Walden Macht & Haran adds: “We believe the incriminating evidence revealed by the communications between the SLA and the plaintiff’s attorneys is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what our motion and subsequent subpoenas will uncover. We look forward to exposing the SLA’s abuses and bringing the facts to light.”
An SLA spokesperson tells the Post they are unable to comment on pending litigation, but adds: “Characterising standard investigative procedures as collusion demonstrates either a fundamental misunderstanding of law enforcement or a disregard of the facts.”
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