Charles Oakley’s Civil Suit Dismissed

The civil lawsuit that former Knicks player Charles Oakley filed against Madison Square Garden and team owner James Dolan was dismissed today by a federal judge in Manhattan, according to Andrew Denney and Gabrielle Fonrouge of The New York Post.

Oakley sued following a 2017 incident that saw him ejected from the arena and arrested after a scuffle with security guards. Oakley’s suit claimed he was unfairly targeted for taking verbal jabs at Dolan, while the owner accused Oakley of being drunk and belligerent. The lawsuit, filed in September of 2017, alleged defamation, assault, false imprisonment and other similar charges.

Judge Richard Sullivan ruled today that Oakley failed to make a plausible legal argument against the defendants.

“From its inception, this case has had the feel of a public relations campaign, with the parties seemingly more interested in the court of public opinion than the merits of their legal arguments. That is perhaps understandable, given the personal and public nature of the dispute,” Sullivan wrote. “But while basketball fans in general, and Knicks fans in particular, are free to form their own opinions about who was in the right and whether Oakley’s ejection was motivated by something more than the whims of the teams owner, the fact remains that Oakley has failed to allege a plausible legal claim that can meet federal pleading standards.”

Sullivan also determined that Dolan and MSG had the right to eject Oakley because they serve as landlords of the arena.

MSG issued a statement praising the decision. The company called the dispute with Oakley an “incident that no one was happy about,” adding, “Maybe now there can be peace between us.”

However, Douglas Wigdor, who serves as Oakley’s attorney, indicated his client isn’t ready to call off the legal battle.

“Charles is not one to give up,” Wigdor said. “While we are disappointed with the ruling, it’s just the beginning of the fourth quarter and we are confident that we can turn this around with an appeal that we plan to file in the coming days.”

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8 thoughts on “Charles Oakley’s Civil Suit Dismissed

  1. Jason Lancaster

    Defamation is always a hard case to make, but that’s especially true if the person claiming defamation is a public figure. So it goes.

    Dolan would have been wiser to settle by offering Oakley an apology and a nice gesture (like a charitable donation in Oakley’s name). Might have helped his image, at least a tiny bit.

    • That’s a good idea, but Dolan is immune to good ideas. Or any ideas that do not come from Dolan.

  2. x%sure

    One might say that contemporary law was invented to protect the privacy of property. Of course officially it is said the law exists to protect civil rights.
    The propertyowner won, yay.
    Lawyers can word this a lot better.

  3. ZacharyH

    Not a good business look for Dolan tho. If fans were smarter they’d quit going to games. Watch some Syracuse, St John’s, etc.

  4. Oakley likely got what he wanted from the suit. He didn’t come close to making out a legal claim, and I’m sure his attorneys told him this. Civil court is about $$ damages. It’s not a place you can go just to get a verdict that you were right in a dispute or mistreated; the State has better uses of its funds than to provide such a forum.

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