Judge: No ‘special accommodations’ for Michael Jordan

SHARE Judge: No ‘special accommodations’ for Michael Jordan
SHARE Judge: No ‘special accommodations’ for Michael Jordan

Federal court officials in Chicago have played ball with Michael Jordan in the past, once helping him slip inside their building through an underground passage.

But on Monday, U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey turned down Jordan’s request for “special accommodations” as the superstar basketball player prepared to take his lawsuit against the defunct grocer Dominick’s to trial.

“All litigants stand equal before the law,” Blakey wrote in his order.

The judge didn’t go into the details of Jordan’s request, but Jordan is expected to attend and testify during the trial that begins Tuesday. He likely will be forced to enter the Dirksen Federal Courthouse through the front door — just as former teammate Scottie Pippen did when he testified for prosecutors in a fraud trial last fall.

Both sides in Jordan’s case will have use of an attorney/witness room “on the public side of the courthouse building, but no other special accommodations will be provided,” the judge ruled Monday.

Jordan’s lawsuit revolves around an ad published by Dominick’s six years ago that used Jordan’s name and his famous number “23.”

The ad congratulated Jordan. But at the bottom, the grocery chain threw in a $2-off coupon for a Ranchers Reserve Steak. Only two were redeemed, records show. Jordan’s ensuing lawsuit accused the grocer of using his name without permission and pointed out Jordan’s name was already on “two fine steak restaurants.”

U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur ruled in 2012 that Safeway — the conglomerate that owned Dominick’s — violated the Illinois Right of Publicity Act, records show. So lawyers are going to trial this week over damages. The trial is expected to last until Aug. 20 at the latest.

A key issue will be the amount of money Jordan is paid for the use of his likeness. That means the value of his endorsement deals could come out in court. However, the danger that other sensitive details could be revealed prompted Nike, Gatorade and Upper Deck to ask the judge to consider restricting access to the courtroom. 2K Sports Inc. joined in that request Monday.

The judge has yet to rule on the request.

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