Garden Should Quit While They’re Behind, Say Pros

New York Daily News - Thomas Zambito
October 4, 2007

It’s time to cut the check.

Legal experts say it’s highly unlikely an appeals court would overturn the $11.6 million in punitive damages a Manhattan jury awarded to Anucha Browne Sanders.

And that figure will only grow in the coming weeks when Manhattan Federal Judge Gerard Lynch adds millions to the total payout when he decides how much to give the fired Knicks exec in lost compensation and legal fees.

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Typically, appeals court will only tinker with a damages award if it appears to be excessive. Experts say this one doesn’t appear to be off the charts because Browne Sanders was a highly paid executive.

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The Garden has an incentive to settle, too. Every new legal filing and court hearing attracts unwanted attention, Batson said. “She’s got them over a barrel,” Batson said. “I would have to think that would send their corporate sponsors running for the hills.”

The Garden is on the hook for $8.6 million of the punitive damages payout. And Garden Chairman James Dolan will have to dig into his personal fortune to pay off another $3 million. That’s because insurers don’t write policies to cover punitive damages.

On top of all this, Dolan and the Garden are facing down another possible payout in a sexual harassment suit.

Courtney Prince, the former captain of the Rangers City Skaters, says members of the Rangers public relations staff subjected her to X-rated propositions and – as in the Browne Sanders case – the Garden fired her when she complained.

Prince lawyer Kathleen Peratis was keeping a close tab on the outcome of Browne Sanders’ case. “I think this is a very empowering decision for women who go through the torturous process of these cases,” Peratis said. “I’m glad to see she was vindicated.