Brooklyn Boro

Madison Square Garden relaxes its facial recognition policy

It was used to ban lawyers.

February 9, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. made big news when people found out about its “adverse attorney” policy that uses facial recognition technology to ban any lawyers with any connection to a lawsuit against it.

On Monday, MSG Entertainment announced that it is slightly modifying its policy, making exceptions for attorneys who work for firms involved in lawsuits against Tao Group Hospitality, the umbrella company that runs its various restaurants and clubs, while it tries to sell that part of the company.

“As a result of MSG Entertainment’s exploration of a potential sale of its majority interest in Tao Group Hospitality, effective immediately, the Company has lifted the adverse attorney policy for any litigation currently pending with Tao entities. Accordingly, all attorneys employed at the firms involved may attend events at MSG Entertainment’s venues, and those firms will all be notified. The policy remains in place for all other firms pursuing (sic) active litigation against the Company.”

The policy is controversial both because of the policy to ban lawyers, who may not even know their firm is suing MSG Entertainment, and for its use of facial recognition technology.

Multiple law firms have sued since the policy went into effect in June. A New York County Supreme Court justice ruled that it was a violation of Civil Rights laws last December, a decision MSG appealed.

After the policy went into effect, Sam Davis of Davis, Saperstein & Saloman was barred from entering MSG venues while his firm was involved with a lawsuit against a Tao subsidiary. An associate at that same firm, Kelly Conlon, was removed from a Rockettes show this past November while she was with her daugher’s Girl Scout Troop.

Recently, the State’s Attorney General Letitia James wrote a letter to MSG to ask for more information about the policy and program. The NYS Bar Association also formed a task force to investigate the issue and make legal recommendations. Brooklyn’s Domenick Napoletano, president-elect of the State Bar, was picked to head the task force.

According to the Attorney General, as many as 90 law firms including thousands of attorneys have been impacted by the ban. In her letter, James warned executives that the practice of blocking legitimate ticket holders is likely a violation of local, state and federal laws that prohibit retaliation.

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