A lawyer has been kicked out of Radio City Music Hall after facial recognition identified him as an opposing attorney

Most of us have had mixed reactions when we tell someone we are a lawyer. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes it opens a Pandora’s box where we didn’t want the familiar.

But how many of us have been asked to leave a public art venue because we work?

That’s what Kelly Conlon says happened when she tried to bring her daughter to see the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall last holiday season.

“They knew my name before I told them”

Conlon is a senior partner at the New Jersey personal injury firm Davis, Saperstein & Salomon. As it turns out, one of the firm’s clients is suing a restaurant owned by MSG Entertainment, the same parent company as Radio City.

MSG also owns Madison Square Garden, the Beacon Theatre, and the Chicago Theatre.

Conlon is not involved in the lawsuit against MSG, but she told NBC New York that she was pulled aside by security when she brought her daughter to Radio City Music Hall as part of a Girl Scout field trip.

“They knew my name before I told them,” he said. “They knew the firm I was associated with before I told them. And they told me I wasn’t allowed to be there.”

Signs posted in the theater notified patrons that the venue uses facial recognition technology for security purposes. But what Conlon apparently didn’t know was that they were also using it to implement a controversial policy barring lawyers involved in lawsuits against MSG.

No soup for you

MSG imposed the ban in June, sending letters to multiple law firms informing them that their lawyers could not enter any MSG location until the lawsuit was resolved. The company claims the policy protects against improper contact between MSG employees and opposing attorneys. But it doesn’t just bar lawyers actually working on cases against MSG, it’s a firm-wide ban.

Several companies have sued over the policy. MSG claims that a ticket to one of its venues is a license that it can revoke for any reason or no reason at all. But several judges in New York and Delaware disagreed, with one calling the policy “the stupidest thing I’ve ever read” during oral arguments.

At those same oral arguments, attorney Greg Varallo talked about facial recognition being used to remove attorneys from MSG venues.

“It appears that my friends at Madison Square Garden used facial recognition software to log in and scrape all the web pages of all the companies involved,” Varallo said.

That was based on an affidavit from another attorney, Barbara Hart, who said she was fired from Madison Square Garden in October under the policy. Hart was also not involved in his company’s case against MSG and says he was unaware of the ban.

In November, a New York judge ruled that MSG could not deny entry to anyone with a valid ticket, saying “there appears to be no rational basis for the policy other than to deter attorneys from filing suit.” But the judge also ruled that MSG could refuse to sell tickets to the opposing companies’ attorneys or cancel them “until they produce such tickets for admission.”

So MSG doubled down on the policy, sending out another round of letters saying attorneys for the affected companies’ tickets purchased anywhere at MSG are “hereby cancelled.”

We doubt any of these lawyers would resort to trench coats and fake mustaches, but we kind of wish they would.

Conlon’s firm, in turn, is challenging MSG’s liquor license, arguing that they have a duty to accommodate members of the public as long as they don’t cause a disruption.

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