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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Munoz

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

August 20, 2014

EFREN MUNOZ, et al., Defendants.


EDWARD J. DAVILA, District Judge.


Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. ("Plaintiff") markets and licenses commercial exhibitions of pay-per-view prizefight events and possessed the proprietary rights to exhibit and sublicense one particular program, namely "Ultimate Fighting Championship 155: Junior Dos Santos v. Cain Velasquez" (the "Event"), which was telecast on December 29, 2012. In this action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Efren Munoz, doing business as Taqueria Mi Tierra and Taqueria Mi Tierra, Inc. (hereinafter "Defendant"), illegally intercepted and broadcasted the Event in Defendant's place of business. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's application for default judgment. See Docket Item No. 17. That motion will be granted for the reasons explained below.

Federal jurisdiction arises pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and personal jurisdiction arises from service on the Defendant in California. Burnham v. Super. Ct. , 495 U.S. 604, 610-11 (1990). Plaintiff filed the Complaint on December 20, 2013. See Docket Item No. 1. Defendant failed to answer and default was entered by the Clerk on April 10, 2014. See Docket Item No. 16.


As noted, Plaintiff is a commercial distributor and licensor of sports events and possessed the exclusive nationwide commercial distribution rights to the Event. Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 16. In order for commercial establishments to broadcast the Event, owners were required to enter into a sublicense agreement with Plaintiff. Id . ¶ 17. This sublicense provided commercial establishments the right to publicly exhibit the Event. Id.

On December 29, 2012, investigator Nathan Tate viewed a broadcast of the Event at Defendant's commercial establishment, Taqueria Mi Tierra. Dkt. No. 17 at 2. Based on Tate's observation, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant displayed the Event without obtaining the proper license. Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 19.

According to Tate, Defendant was displaying an undercard event for the time he was at the establishment. Plaintiff also owned the rights to distribute those preliminary events. See Tate Affidavit, Docket Item No. 18 ¶ 9. Plaintiff cannot determine the means of signal transmission the Defendants used to display the Event. Dkt. No. 17 at 8. Tate states that Defendant broadcast the Event on two televisions, the establishment's capacity was 90 persons, three separate headcounts between 8:10 p.m. and 8:25 p.m. revealed that at the times of the headcount the number of patrons was 50, and Defendant did not require a cover charge to enter the establishments. Id. at 11; Dkt. No. 17-3. Tate states that there was no visible cable box, but a satellite was visible. Dkt. No. 17-3 at 2-3.


Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b), the court may enter default judgment against a defendant who has failed to plead or otherwise defend an action. "The district court's decision whether to enter default judgment is a discretionary one." Aldabe v. Aldabe , 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980).

The Ninth Circuit has provided seven factors for consideration by the district court in exercising its discretion to enter default judgment, known commonly as the Eitel factors. They are: (1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff; (2) the merits of plaintiff's substantive claim; (3) the sufficiency of the complaint; (4) the sum of money at stake in the action; (5) the possibility of dispute concerning material facts; (6) whether default was due to excusable neglect and; (7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring decisions on the merits. Eitel v. McCool , 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986). When assessing these factors, all factual allegations in the complaint are taken as true, except those with regard to damages. Televideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal , 826 F.2d 915, 917-18 (9th Cir. 1987).


A. The Eitel Factors

Here, the Eitel factors weigh in favor of default judgment against Defendant. As to the first factor, denying Plaintiff's application for default judgment would make little sense since Defendant has refused to litigate this action. The Court would hear and review the same evidence it has before it now if Plaintiff was required to prove up its case. Thus, Plaintiff would be prejudiced in the form of further delay and ...

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