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J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Martinez

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 10, 2017

J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
MARTIN CARRILLO MARTINEZ, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DAMAGES, ATTORNEY'S FEES, AND COSTS (DOC. NO. 66)

         This matter came before the court on May 2, 2017, for hearing on plaintiff's motion for damages, attorney's fees, and costs. Attorney Thomas Riley appeared on behalf of plaintiff. Defendant Martin Carrillo Martinez appeared on his own behalf with a private Spanish-language interpreter. After oral argument, the motion was taken under submission. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff's motion will be granted in part.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc. (“J & J Sports”) commenced this action against defendant Martin Carrillo Martinez on October 8, 2014, alleging a violation of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. § 605), a violation of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 (47 U.S.C. § 553), and state law unfair competition and conversion claims.

         According to its complaint, plaintiff J & J Sports was granted exclusive commercial exhibition licensing rights to a sports program entitled “Timothy Bradley v. Juan Manuel Marquez WBO Welterweight Championship Fight Program” (the “Program”), telecast on October 12, 2013. On that date, defendant Martinez was the owner and manager of La Nayarita Restaurant at 702 L Street in Sanger, California. Defendant intercepted and exhibited the Program at La Nayarita Restaurant without authorization to do so. On January 6, 2017, this court granted plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment as to plaintiff's § 605 and state conversion claims. (Doc. No. 58.)

         On April 3, 2017, plaintiff filed the instant motion for damages, attorney's fees, and costs. (Doc. No. 66.) On April 17, 2017, defendant filed his opposition. (Doc. No. 67.) On April 25, 2017, plaintiff filed its reply. (Doc. No. 68.)

         DISCUSSION

         A. Damages

         Following the court's finding of defendant's liability as to plaintiff's § 605 and state conversion claims, plaintiff now seeks damages totaling $26, 600.

         1. Damages Pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)

         Under the Federal Communications Act, a plaintiff may elect to seek either actual or statutory damages. 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(I)-(II). The statute provides for statutory damages for each violation of not less than $1, 000 and not more than $10, 000, as the court considers just. 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II). The statute also authorizes enhanced damages of not more than $100, 000 if the court finds the violation was “committed willfully and for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain.” 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). Here, plaintiff seeks $5, 000 in statutory damages and $20, 000 in enhanced statutory damages.

         With respect to statutory damages, plaintiff seeks nearly three times the $1, 600 amount of the commercial licensing fee for the Program. Plaintiff argues that an increased statutory damages amount is warranted not only to compensate it for loss of revenue, but also to deter broadcast piracy in the future. (See Doc. No. 66 at 4-5.) Additionally, plaintiff argues that a large enhanced damages award is justified in light of the number of patrons present for the telecast, the quality of the televisions, and the location of the restaurant. (Id. at 7.)[1]

         In support of its motion for summary judgment, plaintiff submitted an affidavit from its investigators stating that on the day of the telecast, they observed the Program being shown to approximately twenty patrons on two color televisions at La Nayarita Restaurant. (Affidavit of Mitch Gerking and Jeff Lang, Doc. No. 43-2.) The investigators further stated, however, that there was no cover charge for admittance. (Id.) Plaintiff presents no further evidence suggesting that the restaurant specially advertised the event or implemented premium pricing of its services or goods during the event. Moreover, there is no evidence before the court that defendant has previously been found liable of broadcast piracy.

         In light of this record, the court finds it appropriate to award plaintiff $1, 800 in statutory damages, plus $200 in enhanced statutory damages, for a total of $2, 000 in total damages pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C). See, e.g., J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Hernandez, No. 12-cv-05773-JST, 2013 WL 2468354, at *5 (N.D. Cal. June 6, 2013) (awarding $2, 200 in statutory and enhanced damages); J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Aranda, No. 1:12-cv-01508-AWI-BAM, 2013 WL 1982974, at *3-4 (E.D. Cal. May 13, 2013) (awarding $1, 000 in statutory damages and denying request for enhanced statutory damages); J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Jurado, No. 2:10-cv-03040-GEB-DAD, 2011 WL 6153605, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 12, 2011) (awarding $1, 000 in statutory damages and $3, 000 in enhanced statutory damages for a total award of $4, 000 in a default judgment under similar circumstances to those presented here), findings and recommendations adopted, No. 2:10-cv-03040-GEB-DAD (Jan. 13, 2012), ECF No. 21.

         2. Damages for ...


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