A federal appeals court panel reinstated New York Knicks legend Charles Oakley’s lawsuit against Madison Square Garden Sports Corp. following a 2017 game ejection. The court is also allowing Oakley to add Knicks executive chairman and CEO James Dolan as a defendant, but that has not happened yet.
This is the second time a federal court has reinstated Oakley’s case, which he filed in September 2017. Oakley’s case was last dismissed in November 2021.
Oakley, who was a first-team all-defensive selection with the Knicks in 1994, was ejected from a February 2021 game at Madison Square Garden. Oakley was reportedly “boisterous” around Nolan, who was near his seat, and asked to leave the game.
Oakley pushed security personnel before he was removed from the stands. He was arrested and charged with three counts of assault.
A video of the altercation can be seen here.
The NBA tried to reconcile differences between Oakley and Nolan in a meeting with commissioner Adam Silver and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. That did not settle things, as Oakley proceeded with the civil lawsuit in September.
Here is what the panel of judges from the federal appeals court said regarding Oakley’s case.
“In this case, the only video record of Oakley’s initial encounter with the security guards does not compel the conclusions that Oakley was provided a reasonable opportunity to leave the Garden and that any force used by the guards during that initial encounter was reasonable,” they wrote. “Given material disputes about whether and when the security guards pushed Oakley, we cannot conclude as a matter of law that no reasonable jury could conclude that the defendants gave Oakley a reasonable opportunity to depart, and that they then used only reasonable force.”
Charles Oakley’s lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, issued the following statement to The Athletic about Oakley’s case:
“We are obviously thrilled with the Second Circuit’s decision and look forward to holding MSG and Dolan accountable for their actions.”
The MSG Sports Corp. released the following statement:
“This matter should be behind all of us at this point, but because of the ongoing legal maneuverings of Charles Oakley and his lawyers, this case will apparently now have to continue. Nevertheless, we fully expect this case to be dismissed – for the third time.”