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G & G Closed Circuit Events, LLC v. Gonzales

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 27, 2014

G & G CLOSED CIRCUIT EVENTS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH ANTHONY GONZALES A/K/A JOE ANTHONY GONZALES, individually and d/b/a BREAKTIME BILLIARDS, Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING THE GRANT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT (Doc. 11)

SANDRA M. SNYDER, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff G & G CLOSED CIRCUIT EVENTS, LLC, moves for Entry of Default Judgment against Defendants JOSEPH ANTHONY GONZALES A/K/A JOE ANTHONY GONZALES, individually and d/b/a BREAKTIME BILLIARDS. This Court has reviewed Plaintiff's motion and supporting documents and has determined that this matter is suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 78-230(h). Having reviewed all written materials submitted and applicable law, the Court recommends that Plaintiff's motion be granted but that damages be set at an amount lower than the amount that Plaintiff requests.

I. Legal and Factual Background

On September 9, 2013, Plaintiff filed its complaint against Defendants, alleging violations of 47 U.S.C. § 605, et seq., and 47 U.S.C. § 553, et seq., as well as claims under California state law. The allegations are based on Defendants' alleged unlawful interception, receiving, and exhibiting of "Knockout Kings: Canelo Alvarez v. Josesito Lopez Championship Fight Program, " (the "program"), which was telecast on Saturday, September 15, 2012. Plaintiff was the exclusive commercial distributor of the program.

Breaktime Billiards, a pool hall/bar, has a capacity of approximately 200 people. On the evening of the broadcast, between 70 to 75 people were present. The restaurant had eight television sets, one of which (over the bar) was showing the fight.

The first cause of action for violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605 (Unauthorized Publication or Use of Communications) alleges that Defendants knowingly intercepted, received, and exhibited the program for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain. Section 605 provides that a plaintiff may recover its actual damages or statutory damages not less than $1, 000.00 nor more than $10, 000.00, and if the violation was willful and for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain, the damages may be enhanced by an amount not more than $100, 000.00 for each violation. 47 U.S.C. § 605 (e)(3)(C).

The second cause of action for violation of 47 U.S.C. § 553 (Unauthorized Reception of Cable Services) is based upon the same allegations. It provides that the plaintiff may recover its actual damages and any profits resulting from the defendant's violation, or statutory damages "in a sum not less than $250 or more than $10, 000 as the court considers just." 47 U.S.C. § 553 (c)(3)(A)(i). If the violation was committed willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or personal financial gain, the court may increase damages by an amount of no more than $50, 000.00. 47 U.S.C. § 553 (c)(3)(B).

The third cause of action for conversion alleges that Defendants tortiously obtained possession of the program and wrongfully converted it for their own benefit. Plaintiff alleges that these acts were willful and intentionally designed to harm Plaintiff and subject it to economic distress.

The fourth count alleges a violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq., for which Plaintiff seeks restitution, declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as costs and attorneys' fees.

In its motion, Plaintiff requests relief on only two of the four causes of action. Plaintiff requests $110, 000, representing the $10, 000 maximum for statutory damages under 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II) and the $100, 000 maximum enhancement for a willful violation under (C)(ii). Plaintiff also requests $1, 600.00, the licensing fee for the program for establishments the size of Breaktime Billiards, as damages for conversion.

II. Default Judgment

Entry of default judgment is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b), which states, in pertinent part:

(2) By the Court. In all other cases, the party must apply to the court for a default judgment. A default judgment may be entered against a minor or incompetent person only if represented by a general guardian, conservator, or other like fiduciary who has appeared. If the party against whom a default judgment is sought has appeared personally or by a representative, that party or its representative must be served with written notice of the application at least 7 days before the hearing. The court may conduct ...

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