Madison Square Garden already enjoys the sort of public approval you’d expect from an organization that kicks a mom escorting a Girl Scout troop out of a Christmas show. The woman worked at a law firm involved in a suit against a restaurant that MSG owns a stake in, and despite this having nothing to do with Radio City Music Hall, MSG pays for advanced facial recognition software to deliver some bush league bullying upon anyone on a firm website. After the Girl Scout story, most companies would launch a public relations campaign to salvage its reputation, but MSG is not most companies.
When a company doubles down on a policy that a judge already branded “the stupidest thing I’ve ever read,” you’re not dealing with a company interested in improving its reputation. Cartoonish (and often bumbling) supervillainy is a brand for nepo baby James Dolan. And that brand is so pervasive that MSG’s attorney, Gibson Dunn’s Randy Mastro, doesn’t balk at breezily comparing the company to… some interesting characters:
In court in October, a lawyer for the company, Randy Mastro, told the State Supreme Court judge, Lyle Frank, that “lawyers sometimes alienate people.” Mr. Mastro said he had experienced being on a banned list himself when he cracked down on the mafia as a federal prosecutor. “There are some Italian restaurants I couldn’t get a reservation at,” he said. “I didn’t sue them.”
You see, Your Honor, my client is simply running its business like an organized criminal racketeering operation with a legendary penchant for murder and intimidation.
Obviously, that’s not how Mastro intended to this comment to go over. But when you reach for a favorable comparison to your client’s behavior and the best you can come up with is “the mob” you should probably ask yourself if arguing by analogy might be more trouble than it’s worth.
Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor and “we’re a lot like the Gambino crime family” is one of those times.
A new piece by former Above the Law editor Kashmir Hill tracks the history of a 1900s NY law designed to protect theater critics from the wrath of wealthy venues that lawyers are successfully citing to protect themselves against petty retaliation. And that’s where we are at this point: petty retaliation.
Because there’s a colorable argument that a specific venue should bar an attorney from going to the scene of a slip and fall and ex parte chatting with employees. That doesn’t extend to taking revenge on some Girl Scouts at Radio City over a lawsuit involving a completely different venue that happens to be another tentacle in Dolan’s failson empire.
It’s not even clear that MSG could fully turn its back on this petty lifestyle even if it wanted to. It might let one future Girl Scout into a show, but then another complaint will come in and Dolan won’t be able to stop himself from issuing another ban.
To borrow from a movie about a company like MSG, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”
Lawyers Barred by Madison Square Garden Found a Way Back In [New York Times]
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.