New York Knicks fan suing team over his ejection for heckling Carmelo Anthony
In a story that has “frivolous lawsuit” written all over it — on its surface — a 42-year-old man is suing the New York Knicks over an incident when he was ejected from Madison Square Garden after heckling team superstar Carmelo Anthony, according to a New York Post report.
Anthony Rotondi, a former broker for ING, contends in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court that he was wrongly ejected from a New York Knicks game and later arrested last season after he hollered, “Carmelo, you stink!” at Anthony.
The lawsuit alleges that Rotundi lost his job due to the incident, as he was watching the game from his fourth-row seats along with an ING colleague, who happened to be his supervisor, along with two clients.
The alleged taunt occurred after the Knicks blew a 14-point lead against the Detroit Pistons during the fourth quarter of a game on Jan. 7, 2014.
Security removed Rotundi from the arena and subsequently arrested him on charges of criminal trespass and tampering with a sports contest.
What Rotundi alleges occurred afterward — if the humiliation of getting ejected in front of a colleague and a couple of clients wasn’t enough — provides the basis of what he argues is a legitimate legal claim.
According to the lawsuit, Rotundi accuses an MSG employee of calling his employer to complain about his “abusive” behavior and “disorderly” conduct. He also claims he was erroneously accused of not cooperating when asked by security for his ticket stub and then refusing to leave the arena.
Rotundi ultimately was fired from his job at ING on Jan. 9. His lawsuit requests the identity of the MSG officials who accused him of such behavior so that he can sue them for libel.
The lawsuit — perhaps in an unintentionally humorous way — alleges that Rotundi was ejected and arrested for “merely engaging in the type of fan-like conduct The Garden encourages each and every night that the Knicks play.”
Wait. Is he suggesting in the lawsuit that the Knicks’ poor play encourages fans to heckle the team’s players? Or is it simply a strange way of legitimately explaining and justifying his conduct?
If it’s the former, that’s pretty amusing. If it’s the latter, well, his lawsuit may still have merit, especially if the contention contained in the lawsuit that an MSG official called his employer can be proven legitimate. That’s taking things way too far and arguably is far more inappropriate than the behavior Rotundi is accused of engaging in at the basketball game in question.
In other words, Rotundi’s case against a New York professional sports team is certainly less frivolous than the lawsuit filed by a fan against the New York Yankees, among other entities, over how he was ridiculed during a televised broadcast of a game for falling asleep in his seat. That’s something.
Oh, and by the way: The Knicks did manage to hold on and win the game in question, beating the Pistons by a score of 89-85. Not that Rotundi saw it. Nor does he likely care.
UPDATE: The Post has amended its original story on the lawsuit as follows:
But a source who was standing near Rotondi had a different version of the heckling events.
The Knicks fan told The Post that Rotondi said “Carmelo you f—ing suck!” Two other fans flagged down security, who then removed Rotondi to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Barry Watkins, head of communications at MSG, told The Post, “This is a frivolous lawsuit, and we are considering counter-suing this individual.
“We do not welcome anyone into the building who behaves in an inappropriate and hostile manner and those who behave that way are subject to ejections,” Watkins said.
A video of the alleged incident was also added to the report.