Musicians Fire Back, File Lawsuit Against New York’s Ticketed Event Ban

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A post-sunset shot of Manhattan. Photo Credit: Michael Discenza

Earlier this month, Digital Music News was first to report that the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) had instituted a controversial ticketed event ban, prohibiting restaurants, clubs, and venues from selling tickets to concerts or promoting live music. Now, an outraged musician has fired back with a lawsuit.

Michael Hund, a New York native and Buffalo Music Hall of Fame guitarist, just submitted the complaint to a federal court. An exclusive copy of the filing was shared with DMN this morning.

Naming Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley as defendants, the 17-page-long document quickly takes aim at the ticketed event ban, which the governor and chairman allegedly implemented “without authority or justification,” thereby depriving the plaintiffs and other musicians “of their personal and professional property without just compensation.”

The lawsuit specifies that Hund had been scheduled to play over ten shows until “the overstep of government authority” prevented him from doing so. Arguing that Governor Cuomo’s far-reaching lockdown measures represent “an unprecedented abuse of his emergency powers,” the document reiterates that public businesses had been adhering to social-distancing requirements before the ticketed event ban. “The additional guidelines do not add to this mission,” the plaintiff and his legal team state, “but rather only have a discriminatory effect on musicians, music venues and their livelihoods in the state of New York.”

The detailed complaint proceeds to note the State of New York’s downward trend in new COVID-19 cases and deaths, arguing in turn that the underlying goal of lockdown measures (to prevent the healthcare system from becoming overburdened) has been achieved. Plus, the firmly worded legal action emphasizes the stance that the governor has “selectively enforced” lockdown measures – including by failing to disperse non-socially distanced protests and by granting “political and personal favors to celebrities,” with yesterday’s MTV Video Music Awards cited as an example.

“The Defendants’ prohibition of ‘advertised and/or ticketed shows’ is unconstitutional under the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and does not serve the public health in any conceivable way,” the lawsuit continues.

Lastly, towards its close, the text targets the “arbitrary and capricious rules” associated with the ticketed event ban. Arguing that the customer’s purpose for patronizing a socially distanced area (to eat a meal or enjoy live music, for instance) doesn’t affect the risk of spreading COVID-19, the plaintiff relays: “Once a customer is inside the establishment it makes no impact on safety as to why they are there.”

Addressing the lawsuit in an official statement, Peter J. Speroni, attorney for the plaintiff, indicated that he and his team “will vigorously advocate for the musicians across New York State that have been unfairly discriminated against under Governor Cuomo and the State Liquor Authority’s arbitrary rules and executive orders.

“It is now vital, more than ever, to allow musicians and venues in New York State to charge for ticketed events, and to advertise upcoming shows to preserve our music industry,” Speroni also wrote.

At the time of this writing, neither Governor Cuomo nor Chairman Bradley had publicly responded to the suit. Separately, a member of the New York State Senate has penned a letter to the SLA concerning the “exorbitant” fines that it’s levied “against small businesses.”

More as this develops.

4 Responses

  1. Steve

    Covid-19 is a virus, folks – that means it’s here to stay, just like the Rhinovirus that causes the common cold and the Influenza virus that causes the flu. The good news is that Covid-19 isn’t an automatic death sentence. Yes, people have died from complications associated with Covid-19 (and those death toll numbers have been artificially inflated) but the vast majority of people who contract Covid-19 recover fully. So, quit freaking out, stop paying attention to the Covid-19 porn on network TV and social media, and start acting ‘normal’ again. Go back to living life instead of living in fear. Shake hands. Hug someone. Wear a mask if that makes you feel better about yourself, but don’t be a Karen when others stop wearing theirs. And if you feel sick or have a fever, for God’s sake, stay at home until you’re well – that’s true social distancing. Peace and Love to all…

    • Steve

      Thanks for your well-reasoned and consider reply, Angelito. As a matter of fact, I have had two close friends who contracted Covid-19 and they fully recovered (BTW – they are both obese, over 65, and have compromised immune systems due to cancer. Those are classic, at-risk conditions. But Covid-19 didn’t kill them.) I have another acquaintance who contracted Covid-19 and he nearly died; he was in the hospital for 88 days.

      The point is this: Covid-19 is a virus and, yes, it’s gonna kill some folks and make some really sick, but you know what – so does the flu. And so do a lot of other diseases and viruses. Not to mention that lots of people die in car wrecks everyday, too, but we don’t park our cars and stop driving, do we? Life is tenuous, my friend, and you can choose to accept it with all its risks or go shelter in place and wear a mask.

      And, by the way, yes – I have been shaking hands and giving hugs. You should give it a try; it’ll help with your anger issues.

  2. Dr. Faucibreath

    Andrew Cuomovirus was in the streets of NYC WITHOUT A MASK today. What a fraud. Perhaps he was checking on the families of all the nursing home patients he sentenced to death.

    The US is the only country buying into this CV hoax now—all to try to hurt Trump. Gues what, fukwits—it ain’t working and dems will have hell to pay at the ballot box.