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Madison Square Garden Entertainment is in the midst of some shareholder litigation, in which plaintiffs allege the merger between MSGE and MSG Networks Inc. devalued the stock value to the benefit of MSGE CEO James L. Dolan and his family. But this securities case is the mere background over the real story, which is just how petty some parties can get.

You see, Hal Weidenfeld, senior vice president for legal and business affairs at MSGE, sent a letter to the shareholders’ counsel banning them from all MSE venues — including Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and the Chicago Theater — until the matter is resolved:

As reported by Law360:

“Should you attempt to enter or otherwise obtain access to any of the MSG venues, the company will take appropriate steps to enforce this notice,” Weidenfeld said in the letter, dated June 24.

According to MSG’s statement to Law360, “the measure is intended to protect it from unfair advantage that might be gained by the other side’s lawyers through improper contact with MSG employees.” Now — that’s *some* bullshit. Are they — with a straight face — saying that buying an overpriced beer at a Rangers game is truly “improper contact”? LOL. This really stretches credulity. In my own legal career, I have *repeatedly* stayed in a hotel that was in active litigation with a client.

And, I don’t *necessarily* want to be that person (JK, I’m totally that New Yorker) but can the Knicks really afford to turn anyone away? It’s been two decades+ since they made a serious playoffs run, and FORTY-NINE years since their last championship — whatever supply of goodwill the team once had is being rapidly depleted.

But, no, spokesperson Natalie Ravitz continued:

“While we understand this will be disappointing to some individuals, we cannot ignore the fact that litigation creates an inherently adversarial environment, and an ancillary consequence of that is our need to protect against improper disclosure and discovery.”

It is just wild that the company can honesty argue seeing the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular would play any role WHATSOEVER in the instant litigation.

And, whaddya know? The banned attorneys agreed. They went ham on the notion that this was somehow normal operating procedure, sending a letter to outside counsel in the matter calling the move “frivolous” and “unethical” and an attempt to get a “perceived litigation advantage.” The plaintiffs’ attorneys also have a sneaking suspicion that this is an example of inside counsel going rogue, and not something everyone’s on board with, writing, “We suspect that you agree with this, which is why the letters came from MSGE’s inside counsel and not defense counsel.”

And, they’re reportedly not going to take this ban lying down:

The shareholders’ lawyers say that New York’s rules of professional conduct do not prohibit all contact with employees of sued companies but only prohibits contact that deals with the subject of the lawsuit in question.

“No member of the MSGN Plaintiffs’ Counsel has any intention of entering any MSG Venues and discussing the subject matter of this breach of fiduciary duty corporate commercial action with food vendors, box office staff, or any other MSGE employees,” according to the letter, which notes that the firms intend to conduct discovery around the decision to bar them from the venues.

Seriously, this has way more in common with schoolyard antics than a standard litigation practice. But whatever Knicks fans are still left out there can probably agree, it’s perfectly on-brand for Dolan and co.

Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).

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