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J & J Sports Productions, Inc v. Carmen Delgado

February 2, 2012



Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc., brought this action against defendant Carmen Delgado, individually and doing business as Super Burrito Taqueria, arising from defendant's allegedly unauthorized public exhibition of a televised sporting event. Defendant now moves for partial summary judgment on defendant's liability for violation of federal anti-piracy law and conversion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

I. Relevant Facts

Plaintiff was granted the "exclusive nationwide

commercial distribution (closed-circuit) rights" to "'Number One': The Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Juan Manuel Marquez Championship Fight Program" ("Program"), which was televised on September 19, 2009. (Compl. ¶ 9 (Docket No. 1).) These rights included not only the match between Mayweather and Marques, but also several "undercard matches." (Gagliardi Aff. ¶¶ 3, 7, Ex. 1 at 1 (Docket No. 19).) One of these undercard matches was a match between Chris John and Rocky Juarez. (Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff subsequently entered into sublicensing agreements with commercial entities in the hospitality industry, including restaurants, authorizing the sublicensees to publicly exhibit the Program. (Id. ¶ 3.)

Plaintiff is the owner of Super Burrito Taqueria, a restaurant located at 90 W. Court Street in Woodland, California. (Delgado Decl. ¶ 2 (Docket No. 20).) A residential license to view the Program at Mrs. Delgado's home, located at 382 Bright Day Drive, Woodland, California was purchased through Mrs. Delgado's DISH Network subscription. (Riley Decl. Ex. A (Docket No. 19).) The cost of the residential license was $49.95. (Id.) There was no commercial license issued that would have permitted the Program to be viewed at Super Burrito Taqueria. (Gagliardi Aff. ¶ 7.) Such a commercial license would have cost defendant $2,200. (Id. ¶ 8, Ex. 2.)

According to the affidavit of Jason Alexander submitted by plaintiff, Mr. Alexander visited Super Burrito Taqueria on September 19, 2009, approximately five minutes before its closing time, at around 8:00 p.m. (Alexander Aff. at 1 (Docket No. 19).) When he arrived, the eighth round of a boxing match between Chris John and Rocky Juarez was being shown on a television located in the northeast corner of the restaurant. (Id.) While he did not pay any cover charge to enter the restaurant, he did order two drinks. (Id.) He further states that there were around thirty other patrons present in the restaurant. (Id. at 2.)

Defendant does not dispute that the Program was viewed at Super Burrito Taqueria. (Delgado Decl. ¶¶ 4-7.) Rather, she contends that her husband had originally planned to view the fight at home. (Id. ¶¶ 4-5.) Unbeknownst to her, when she fell ill and he had to go into work the night of the Program, he brought their home video box to the restaurant in order to have friends and family gather at the restaurant after it would be closed for the night in order to watch the Program. (Id.) She states that she, personally, did not show the fight at the restaurant or authorize anyone to do so. (Id. ¶ 6.) She does not challenge Mr. Alexander's statement that he entered the restaurant as a paying customer and viewed a portion of the Program.

On September 16, 2010, plaintiff filed this action against defendant, asserting claims for (1) violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605 (unauthorized publication or use of communications); (2) violation of§ 553 (unauthorized reception of cable service); (3) California common law conversion; and (4) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200-17210. Plaintiff now moves for summary judgment as to defendant's liability for violation of §§ 553 and 605 and for California common law conversion.

II. Discussion

Summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).*fn1 A material fact is one that could affect the outcome of the suit, and a genuine issue is one that could permit a reasonable jury to enter a verdict in the non-moving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and can satisfy this burden by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the non-moving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). Alternatively, the moving party can demonstrate that the non-moving party cannot produce evidence to support an essential element upon which it will bear the burden of proof at trial.


Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to "designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324 (quoting then-Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). To carry this burden, the non-moving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

"The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence . . . will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

In deciding a summary judgment motion, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Id. at 255. "Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury ...

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