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J&J Sports Productions, Inc v. Craig Jerrold Pollard

February 2, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge



Presently before the court is plaintiff's application for entry of default judgment against defendant Craig Jerrold Pollard, d/b/a Bogey's Cocktail Lounge, filed August 25, 2010.*fn1

Upon review of the motion and the supporting documents, and good cause appearing, the court issues the following order and findings and recommendations.


On April 30, 2010, plaintiff filed the underlying complaint in this action against defendant Pollard, alleging defendant unlawfully intercepted and exhibited a broadcast of a program featuring a lightweight championship fight between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton ("Program") in his establishment for commercial advantage without obtaining a sublicense from plaintiff for its use, in violation of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 605, the Cable Communications Policy Act, 47 U.S.C. § 553, and state law. The complaint alleges defendant exhibited the first round of the under-card portion of the Program, which was a bout between Humberto Soto and Benoit Gaudet, on May 2, 2009. The summons and complaint were served on defendant Pollard by personal service on July 5, 2010. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e)(2). Pacific Atlantic Trading Co. v. M/V Main Express, 758 F.2d 1325, 1331 (9th Cir. 1985) (default judgment void without personal jurisdiction). Defendant Pollard has failed to file an answer or otherwise appear in this action. The clerk entered default against defendant Pollard on July 30, 2010.

Request for entry of default and the instant motion for default judgment and supporting papers were served by mail on defendant Pollard at his last known address. Defendant Pollard did not file an opposition to the motion for entry of default judgment. Plaintiff seeks an entry of default judgment in the amount of $111,600 against defendant Pollard. DISCUSSION

Entry of default effects an admission of all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint by the defaulted party. Geddes v. United Financial Group, 559 F.2d 557 (9th Cir. 1977). The court finds the well pleaded allegations of the complaint state claims for which relief can be granted. Anderson v. Air West, 542 F.2d 1090, 1093 (9th Cir. 1976).

The complaint requests, in the event of default, an award of damages pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605 et seq. (The Communications Act) and 47 U.S.C. § 553, et seq. (The Cable Communications Policy Act), as well as compensatory and punitive damages for conversion, and restitution for violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq. (Complaint at 3-8.) The instant motion for default judgment requests damages pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605 in the amount of $10,000 in statutory damages, up to $100,000 in enhanced statutory damages for willful acts for the purpose of financial gain, and $1,600 in compensatory damages for conversion.*fn2 Section 605 prohibits the unauthorized publication or use of communications such as the Program. Section 605(e)(3)(A) also provides for a private civil action for a violation of 605(a). National Subscription Television v. S&H TV, 644 F.2d 820, 821 n. 1 (9th Cir. 1981).

The court deems defaulting defendant, by his failure to appear or defend this action, to have waived any objections to the statutory source of the damages prayed for in the instant motion. The memorandum of points and authorities and affidavits filed in support of the motion for entry of default judgment support the finding that plaintiff is entitled to the relief requested. There are no policy considerations which preclude the entry of default judgment of the type requested. See Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-1472 (9th Cir. 1986).

One of the factors the court is free to consider in exercising its discretion to grant or deny default judgment is the sum of money at stake. See J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Betancourt, No. 08cv937 JLS (POR), 2009 WL 3416431, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 20, 2009).

Under section 605, statutory damages may be awarded between $1,000 and $10,000 for violation of the Federal Communications Act and up to $100,000 when the violation "was committed willfully and for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or financial gain." 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)-(ii). The fact of unauthorized display of such programs has been held to be willful based on the technical skill required to de-scramble signals and connect televisions to the cable distribution systems. Plaintiff has proposed a means of calculating enhanced damages based on the number of people viewing the program and the amount of the cover charge, citing Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Cat's Bar, Inc., 2009 WL 700125, *2 (C.D. Ill. 2009). Here, there is evidence that the Program was shown on three television sets, to an audience of 13 to 16 people in a relatively urban city with a population in excess of 100,000. There was no cover charge, but the showing of the Program was intended to increase business. (Henderson Aff., dkt. #8-3.)*fn3 Based on this evidence, an enhanced award of $100,000 is not warranted but rather a calculation based on the number of viewers and the lack of a cover charge as cited by plaintiff, relying on Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Cat's Bar, Inc., 2009 WL 700125, *2 (C.D. Ill. 2009), appears reasonable. This court therefore will recommend statutory damages under section 605 in the amount of $10,000 and enhanced statutory damages in the amount of $22,400. Inasmuch as an award of $32,400 in statutory damages will be permitted, plaintiff's request for damages for conversion should be denied.

Insofar as the application for default judgment seeks attorneys' fees and costs but the memorandum in support does not contain argument in support of this request, and there is no declaration supporting this request, it is denied without prejudice to its renewal at a later time. CONCLUSION

IT IS ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court shall serve these findings and recommendations on the defaulting defendant at the address indicated on ...

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