Updated: Sep 8, 2020
Musician Michael Hund sues the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) after it instituted a controversial ticketed event ban, prohibiting restaurants, clubs, and venues from selling tickets to concerts or promoting live music, in August.
An exclusive copy of the just submitted complaint to the federal court has been shared with Digital Music News (DMN) by plaintiff Michael Hund, a New York native and Buffalo Music Hall of Fame guitarist.
DMN reports that the17-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.” naming Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley as defendants.
Hund was scheduled to perform over ten shows but got prevented by "the overstep of government authority" as the lawsuit specifies. He further argues 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, and that “The additional guidelines do not add to this mission, but rather only have a discriminatory effect on musicians, music venues and their livelihoods in the state of New York.”
The State of New York’s downward trend in new COVID-19 cases and deaths, is used as an argument that the underlying goal of lockdown measures (to prevent the healthcare system from becoming overburdened) has been achieved, the plaintiff and his legal team state. The firmly worded legal action emphasises the stance that the governor has “selectively enforced” lockdown measures, by failing to disperse non-socially distanced protests and by granting “political and personal favours 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.
Towards the end, the document targets the "arbitrary and capricious rules” associated with the ban, arguing that the customer’s purpose for patronising 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.”
Peter J. Speroni, attorney for the plaintiff, said 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." Speroni also wrote;
“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,”
Governor Cuomo nor Chairman Bradley hasn't 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.”
Digital Music News said that they will report more as it develops.