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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Garcia

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

November 5, 2013



LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.


Pursuant to F.R.Civ.P. 56, plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. ("Joe Hand") seeks to impose a monetary judgment against defendant Richard Jesus Garcia ("Mr. Garcia") for Mr. Garcia's unlawful interception of a closed-circuit boxing program. This Court considered Joe Hand's summary judgment motion on the record[1] and VACATES the November 13, 2013 hearing, pursuant to Local Rule 230(c), (g). For the reasons discussed below, this Court GRANTS Joe Hand a $9, 400 judgment.


Program Interception

Joe Hand is a closed-circuit distributor of sports and entertainment programming and obtained for the United States the exclusive commercial exhibition licensing rights to " Ultimate Fighting Championship 124: Georges St. Pierre v. Josh Koscheck" ("program"), which was broadcast on December 11, 2010. Joe Hand marketed sub-licensing (commercial exhibition) rights to commercial establishment customers in the United States to permit them to show the program. To broadcast the program, Joe Hand required commercial establishments to pay a sublicense fee of $900 for seating capacity up to 50 persons. Joe Hand did not sublicense the program to Mr. Garcia.

Joe Hand alleges that Mr. Garcia unlawfully intercepted and exhibited the program at his Guadalajara Mexican restaurant ("restaurant") in Clovis, California without payment of the $900 commercial sub-licensing fee.

Joe Hand relies on the affidavit of private investigator Lawrence K. Brookter ("Mr. Brookter"), who claims that beginning at 8 p.m. during the program, he observed:

1. Twenty-five people in the restaurant eating and watching the program;
2. A 32-inch television over the bar showing the program;
3. No assessed cover charge;
4. A bartender and assistant operating the restaurant's bar;
5. The restaurant "is in an upscale neighborhood"; and
6. Eight people sitting at the bar and watching the program.

Mr. Brookter's exit head count revealed 25-30 people eating with "some watching the fight."

Joe Hand's Claims

Joe Hand proceeds on its complaint to allege claims for violation of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. §§ 605, et seq., and conversion. By summary judgment, Joe Hand seeks statutory and enhanced damages under 47 U.S.C. § 605 ("section 605") and $900 damages for conversion of the program.


Summary Judgment Standards

Joe Hand contends that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to Mr. Garcia's unlawful interception and broadcast of the program.

F.R.Civ.P. 56(a) permits a party to seek summary judgment "identifying each claim or defense - or the part of each claim or defense - on which summary judgment is sought." "A district court may dispose of a particular claim or defense by summary judgment when one of the parties is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on that claim or defense." Beal Bank, SSB v. Pittorino, 177 F.3d 65, 68 (1st Cir. 1999).

Summary judgment is appropriate when the movant shows "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." F.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Matsushita Elec. Indus. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987). The purpose of summary judgment is to "pierce the pleadings and assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial." Matsushita Elec., 475 U.S. at 586, n. 11, 106 S.Ct. 1348; International Union of Bricklayers v. Martin Jaska, Inc., 752 F.2d 1401, 1405 (9th Cir. 1985).

On summary judgment, a court must decide whether there is a "genuine issue as to any material fact, " not weigh the evidence or determine the truth of contested matters. F.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c); Covey v. Hollydale Mobilehome Estates, 116 F.3d 830, 834 (9th Cir. 1997); see Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598 (1970); Poller v. Columbia Broadcast System, 368 U.S. 464, 467, 82 S.Ct. 486 (1962); Loehr v. Ventura County Community College Dist., 743 F.2d 1310, 1313 (9th Cir. 1984). "Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge, whether he is ruling on a motion for summary judgment or for a directed verdict." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986)

"[T]o carry its ultimate burden of persuasion on the motion, the moving party must persuade the court that there is no genuine issue of material fact." Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Companies, Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000); see High Tech Gays v. Defense Sec. Clearance Office, 895 F.2d 563, 574 (9th Cir. 1990). "As to materiality, the substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit ...

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