Tossing Up Bricks: Former NY Knicks Star Loses Assault Claims (NY)
On remand, in Charles Oakley v. MSG Networks, et al., the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York granted defendants NY Knicks owner James Dolan and Madison Square Garden Co.’s motion to dismiss Charles Oakley’s claims of assault and battery. On February 8, 2017, Oakley was escorted out of his seat by MSG security guards and arrested while attending a Knicks game due to his inappropriate behavior. The incident had been filmed by ESPN, security cameras, and bystanders, with one particular moment revealing Oakley demonstrably putting his finger in one guard’s face and pushing his face. After the incident, the Knicks organization and Dolan made public statements claiming that Oakley was expelled for being drunk and verbally abusive to fans and MSG staff.
In granting dismissal, the Court reasoned that Oakley failed to show the MSG security guards used “objectively unreasonable” force to remove him. On the contrary, the admissible video footage showed that (1) the guards asked Oakley to leave, (2) they gave him a chance to leave, and (3) when he refused to leave, and escalated the confrontation, the guards removed him with the reasonable and appropriate force necessary. No rational jury would believe otherwise. As such, conduct that contributes to an escalation – like a finger to the face – may be sufficient to warrant dismissal of assault and battery claims.Thanks to Gina Rodriguez for her contribution to this article. Should you have any questions, please contact Matthew Care.