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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Cusi

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

July 31, 2013

JOE HAND PROMOTIONS, INC., Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant,
v.
MICHAEL E. CUSI, et al., Defendants/Counterclaimants.

ORDER: GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO DISMISS DEFENDANTS' COUNTERCLAIM; [Doc. No. 13] DENYING PLAINTIFF'S SPECIAL MOTION TO STRIKE [Doc. No. 14]

MICHAEL M. ANELLO, District Judge.

On April 18, 2013, Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. ("Plaintiff") filed an action against Defendants Michael E. Cusi, Raquel Regno, and Raymond Regno ("Defendants"), alleging violations of 47 U.S.C. section 553, 47 U.S.C. section 605, California Business and Professions Code section 17000 et seq., and conversion. Defendants counterclaimed, asserting that 47 U.S.C. sections 605 and 553 are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's motions to dismiss and strike Defendants' counterclaim pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), and California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. [Doc. Nos. 13-14.] For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to dismiss, and DENIES Plaintiff's motion to strike.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This action arises out of events involving the broadcast of an "Ultimate Fighting Championship" program at Stronghold CrossFit & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ("Stronghold CrossFit") on April 21, 2012, at 2176 Chatsworth Boulevard, San Diego, California 92107. [Compl. ¶¶ 7, 19.]

Plaintiff is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business at 407 E. Pennsylvania Boulevard, Feasterville, Pennsylvania 19053. [Compl. ¶ 6.] Defendants Michael E. Cusi, Raquel Regno, and Raymond Regno are each part-owners of Stronghold CrossFit. [Compl. ¶ 8; Answer ¶ 6.]

Plaintiff alleges that it was granted exclusive contractual rights to the nationwide commercial distribution (closed-circuit) of Ultimate Fighting Championship 145: Jon Jones v. Rashad Evans (the " Program "), telecast nationwide on April 21, 2012. [Compl. ¶ 26.] Plaintiff further alleges that on April 21, 2012, Defendants specifically directed the employees of Stronghold CrossFit to unlawfully intercept and broadcast the Program. [Compl. ¶ 19.] Alternatively, Plaintiff alleges that the unlawful actions of Stronghold CrossFit employees in intercepting the Program are directly imputable to Defendants, since Defendants had the obligation to ensure that their business was operating lawfully. [Compl. ¶¶ 16-18.] Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants encouraged the unlawful interception of the Program due to their direct financial interest in Stronghold CrossFit, and that the unlawful interception of the Program in fact resulted in increased profits for Defendants while depriving Plaintiff of the profits associated with the patronage of current, previous, and potential customers. [Compl. ¶¶ 20-23, 51.]

In its Complaint, Plaintiff asserts four claims: (1) Violation of 47 U.S.C. section 605, (2) Violation of 47 U.S.C. section 553, (3) Violation of California Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq., and (4) conversion. In their Answer, Defendants raise a counterclaim against Plaintiff, contending that 47 U.S.C. sections 605 and 553 ("sections 605 and 553") are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. [Answer ¶ 10.] Defendants thus request declaratory relief in the form of a judicial determination as to the vagueness and reach of sections 605 and 553 so that they can conform their conduct to the terms of these statutes. [Answer ¶¶ 11, 12.] Plaintiff now moves to dismiss Defendants' counterclaim.

II. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff seeks to dismiss or strike Defendants' counterclaim on three grounds: (1) lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), (2) failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), and (3) suppression of Plaintiff's First Amendment right to petition, pursuant to California's Anti-SLAPP statute, California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. The Court will consider each in turn.

A. Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

1. Legal Standard

Motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction are provided for by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). When Rule 12(b)(1) is invoked by a litigant, the opposing party bears the burden of proving the existence of the court's subject matter jurisdiction by pleading factual allegations. Thompson v. McCombe, 99 F.3d 352, 353 (9th Cir. 1996).

The justiciability doctrine of standing pertains to the subject matter jurisdiction of federal courts under Article III, and is thus appropriately raised in a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1242 (9th Cir. 2000); ...


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