On November 16, 2020, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a high-profile lawsuit filed by Wigdor LLP on behalf of former NBA All-Star Charles Oakley against Madison Square Garden (“MSG”). The lawsuit was filed in response to a widely publicized incident in which New York Knicks owner James Dolan appeared to order MSG security to violently eject Mr. Oakley from the arena without justification.
A three-judge appeals panel ruled that the District Court for the Southern District of New York erred when it ruled that Mr. Oakley’s complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Second Circuit found that a jury should be left to decide whether the security guards’ use of force in removing Mr. Oakley was unreasonable.
Mr. Oakley played for the Knicks from 1988 to 1998 and is widely credited with ushering in one of the most successful eras in Knicks history. On February 8, 2017, Mr. Oakley was attending a Knicks game when Mr. Dolan directed MSG security to forcibly remove Mr. Oakley from the arena in an attempt to publicly humiliate him, according to the lawsuit.
Mr. Oakley maintains that he did nothing to provoke the ejection. Rather, Mr. Dolan has clearly harbored intense animosity toward Mr. Oakley — for reasons unbeknownst to him — and decided to wage a campaign to publicly humiliate him and malign his reputation, the lawsuit alleges.
Statement from Douglas H. Wigdor, Founding Partner at Wigdor LLP:
“As we have always stated, Mr. Dolan and MSG acted improperly, and unlawfully, when they violently threw Mr. Oakley out of MSG without provocation. We are pleased that the Second Circuit has allowed Mr. Oakley to have his day in court and to finally be able to hold Mr. Dolan accountable for his actions. This is a great day for Knicks fans and fans of Mr. Oakley, and we look forward to the truth of what happened finally coming out.”
Statement from Charles Oakley:
“I am appreciative of the appeals court as I now have a chance to show the world what I said from day one was true. The truth is going to come out at trial and Dolan will be held responsible for what he did.”