MSG defends CEO James Dolan against lawsuit

James Dolan is being sued by MSG shareholders who claim he is overpaid for his work as CEO of the sports and entertainment company.

In response: An MSG spokesperson released a statement to Pitchfork, who originally broke the story, claiming the suit was filed by a “single plaintiff” and highlighting that Mr. Dolan has “generated tremendous shareholder value” for the company.

“The single plaintiff in this suit—Shelby Willcox and the Norton C. Willcox Testamentary Trust—was found by a firm, Purcell Julie & Lefkowitz LLP, that sends out press releases fishing for clients. Under Jim’s leadership, MSG has generated tremendous shareholder value, including a stock price return of nearly 40%, equivalent to a $2 billion increase in market cap, since he became CEO in November 2017. A substantial portion of Jim’s compensation are options that are priced at a significant premium—creating additional incentive for him to continue growing the company and creating value for shareholders.” 


Lawsuit facts: The shareholder lawsuit was filed in late March in Delaware court. The complaint was brought by the Norton C. Willcox Testamentary Trust on behalf of all shareholders.

  • According to company filings, over the last three fiscal years, MSG paid Dolan $75.6 million. “By comparison, MSG’s peer companies paid their CEOs an average of $17 million for the same three-year period,” the complaint says. “The highest-paid peer CEO received $32.4 million, over $43 million less than James.” [Pitchfork]
  • An MSG spokesperson told The Washington Post in an email that the majority of the $75.6 million cited in the lawsuit represents “a one-time award that further aligns Jim’s compensation with the success of the Company going forward.” The spokesperson added that Dolan has “has delivered tremendous value for shareholders” and emphasized that the court proceeding features “a singular plaintiff” — the Norton C. Willcox Testamentary Trust — and “is not about a ‘group’ of shareholders.”

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