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.”