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J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Aranda

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 9, 2013

J&J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
RUBEN GARCIA ARANDA d/b/a EL CACHANILLA POOL HOUSE, Defendant.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

On March 26, 2013, J&J Sports Production, Inc. ("Plaintiff") filed the present motion for default judgment against Defendant Ruben Garcia Aranda a/k/a/Ruben Garcia d/b/a El Cachanilla Pool House ("Defendant"). (Doc. 11). The motion was referred to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. The Court deemed the matter suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 230(g), and vacated the hearing scheduled for May 3, 2013. Having considered the moving papers, and the Court's file, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for default judgment IN PART and judgment will be entered in the amount of $3, 200.00 against Defendant.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a distributor of sports and entertainment programming, alleges that it owns commercial distribution rights to broadcast the closed-circuit program Star Power: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Victor Ortiz, WBO Welterweight Championship Fight Program ("the Program"), telecast nationwide on September 17, 2011. See Compl. § 14. The Program included the main event between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Victor Ortiz, along with undercard bouts, televised replay, and color commentary. Id. Plaintiff alleges that the Program was unlawfully intercepted and exhibited by Defendant at his commercial establishment, El Cachanilla Pool House ("El Cachanilla"), located at 1501 Tulare Street in Fresno, California. Id. § 17. Plaintiff alleges that the interception and exhibition of the Program was done willfully and for purposes of direct and/or indirect commercial advantage and/or private financial gain. Id. § 18.

On September 13, 2012, Plaintiff filed this action alleging violations of the Federal Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 605 and 47 U.S.C. § 553, as well as of violations of California law against conversion and California Business and Professions Code §17200.

The Summons and Complaint were served upon Defendant Ruben Garcia by personal service on November 25, 2012. (Doc. 7). True and correct copies of the Proof of Service were filed with this Court on December 7, 2012. On December 19, 2012, after Defendant failed to file an answer, Plaintiff requested an entry of default against Defendant, which was entered by the clerk on January 16, 2013. (Doc. 9). On March 26, 2013, Plaintiff filed the instant motion for default judgment. (Doc. 11). Plaintiff's motion requests that the Court enter default judgment against Defendant for damages in the amount of $112, 200.00. (Doc. 11-4). Defendant has not appeared or otherwise defended this action, including the motion for entry of default judgment.

LEGAL STANDARD

Where a defendant has failed to respond to the complaint, the court presumes that all well-pleaded factual allegations relating to liability are true. See Geddes v. United Financial Group, 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977); Televideo Systems, Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917-18 (9th Cir. 1987). Therefore, when determining liability, a defendant's default functions as an admission of the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact. See Panning v. Lavine, 572 F.2d 1386 (9th Cir. 1978). While factual allegations concerning liability are deemed admitted upon a defendant's default, the court does not presume that any factual allegations relating to the amount of damages suffered are true. See Geddes, 559 F.2d at 560; TeleVideo Sys., Inc., 826 F.2d at 917-18. The Court must ensure that the amount of damages awarded is reasonable and demonstrated by the evidence. FED. R. CIV. P. 55(b)(2)(C) ; Geddes, 559 F.2d at 560 ; TeleVideo Sys., Inc., 826 F.2d at 917-18.

With the entry of default in the case at hand, this Court may accept the factual allegations of Plaintiff's complaint as true to assess liability. The complaint alleges that Defendant and/or his employees, with knowledge that the boxing program was not to be intercepted, unlawfully exhibited the Program at the establishment. The complaint is sufficiently plead, indicating the substantive merit of Plaintiff's claim, i.e., unauthorized exhibition of the Program. Defendant's failure to contest this action demonstrates absence of a dispute as to material facts. There is no evidence the default resulted from excusable neglect since the service of the complaint is in order. Accordingly, the only issue remaining is an award of damages.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff requests damages in the amount of $110, 000.00 for alleged violations of 47 U.S.C. sections 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II) (statutory damages) and (C)(ii) (enhanced statutory damages) and $2, 200.00 for tortious conversion, for a total of $112, 200.00 in damages.[1]

The Federal Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. § 605 et seq. prohibits commercial establishments from intercepting and broadcasting satellite cable programming without a license. It provides a private right of action in federal court. Plaintiffs may request that courts award actual or statutory damages between $1, 000 and $10, 000 for each violation of section 605. 47 U.S.C. § ...


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