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J & J Sports Productions Inc. v. Garcia

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 17, 2015

J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS INC., Plaintiff,
v.
MARIA D. GARCIA, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc. seeks the entry of default judgment against Maria D. Garcia and Ruben Samudio Garcia, individually and doing business as Las Fuentes Restaurant and Bar (collectively, "Defendants"). (Doc. 12.) Defendants have not opposed this motion. The Court found the matter suitable for decision without an oral hearing pursuant to Local Rule 230(g), and the matter was taken under submission on April 9, 2015. (Doc. 15.) For the following reasons, the Court recommends Plaintiff's motion for default judgment be GRANTED IN PART.

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed its complaint against Defendant on August 28, 2014, asserting it possessed the exclusive rights to the nationwide commercial distribution of "The One' Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Saul Alvarez WBC Light Middleweight Championship Fight Program" ("the Program") televised on September 14, 2013. (Doc. 1 at 4, ¶ 17.) Defendants were served with the complaint, but failed to respond within the time prescribed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Upon application of Plaintiff, default was entered against Defendant on February 2, 2015. (Docs. 10-11.) Plaintiff filed the application for default judgment now pending before the Court on March 2, 2015. (Doc. 12.)

II. Legal Standards Governing Entry of Default Judgment

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern the entry of default judgment. After default is entered because "a party against whom a judgment for relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, " the party seeking relief may apply to the court for a default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a)-(b). Upon the entry of default, well-pleaded factual allegations regarding liability are taken as true, but allegations regarding the amount of damages must be proven. Pope v. United States, 323 U.S. 1, 22 (1944); see also Geddes v. United Financial Group, 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977). In addition, "necessary facts not contained in the pleadings, and claims which are legally insufficient, are not established by default." Cripps v. Life Ins. Co. of North Am., 980 F.2d 1261, 1267 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing Danning v. Lavine, 572 F.2d 1386, 1388 (9th Cir. 1978)).

Entry of default judgment is within the discretion of the Court. Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). The entry of default "does not automatically entitle the plaintiff to a court-ordered judgment. Pepsico, Inc. v. Cal. Sec. Cans, 238 F.Supp.2d 1172, 1174 (C.D. Cal 2002), accord Draper v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915, 924-25 (9th Cir. 1986). The Ninth Circuit determined:

Factors which may be considered by courts in exercising discretion as to the entry of a default judgment include: (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 a dispute concerning material facts, (6) whether the 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). As a general rule, the issuance of default judgment is disfavored. Id. at 1472.

III. Plaintiff's Factual Allegations

The factual assertions of Plaintiff are taken as true because default has been entered against Defendant. See Pope, 323 U.S. at 22. Plaintiff alleges that by contract, it was granted exclusive domestic commercial distribution rights to the Program and, pursuant to that contract entered into sublicensing agreements with various commercial entities throughout North America to broadcast the Program within their establishments. (Doc. 1 at 4-5, ¶¶ 17-19.) Plaintiff asserts each defendant was "an owner, and/or operator, and/or licensee, and/or permittee, and/or person in charge, and/or an individual with dominion, control, oversight and management of the commercial establishment doing business as Las Fuentes Restaurant and Bar." ( Id. at 3, ¶¶ 7-8.)

Plaintiff alleges Defendants broadcast the Program in Las Fuentes Restaurant and Bar without purchasing a proper sublicense from Plaintiff. (Doc. 1 at 3-4, ¶¶ 12-13.). For this act, Plaintiff alleged violations of 47 U.S.C. §§ 553 and 605, conversion, and a violation of the California Business and Professions Code. ( Id. at 4-9.) In the application for default judgment, Plaintiff requests damages for the violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605 and conversion. ( See Doc. 12-1.) Therefore, the Court will address only these claims.

IV. Discussion and Analysis

Applying the factors articulated by the Ninth Circuit in Eitel, the Court finds the factors weigh in favor of granting Plaintiff's motion for default judgment.

A. Prejudice to Plaintiff

The first factor considers whether the plaintiff would suffer prejudice if default judgment is not entered, and potential prejudice to the plaintiff weighs in favor of granting a default judgment. See Pepsico, Inc., 238 F.Supp.2d at 1177. Generally, where default has been entered against a defendant, a plaintiff has no other means by which to recover damages. Id.; Moroccanoil, Inc. v. Allstate Beauty Prods., 847 F.Supp.2d 1197, ...


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