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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. v. Saundry

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 27, 2017

TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
MATTHEW SAUNDRY and DOES 1-10, Defendants.

          ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT [18]

          HON. RONALD, S.W. LEW, Senior U.S. District Judge

         Currently before the Court is Plaintiff Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation's (“Plaintiff”) Motion for Entry of Default Judgment (“Motion” or “Motion for Default Judgment”) against Defendant Matthew Saundry (“Defendant”). ECF No. 18. Having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion, the Court NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion [18].

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff is a corporation that produces and distributes motion pictures and television programs. Compl. ¶ 5, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff holds copyright registrations in twenty-four episodes from Season 1 of the popular television program, New Girl (the “Program”). Id. at ¶ 6, Ex. A; Pl.'s Mot. for Default J. (“Mot.”) 2:15-17. Plaintiff has exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and/or license reproduction of the Program in video format, including DVDs. Compl. ¶ 6. Defendant is a resident of Melbourne, Florida who purportedly does business in this judicial district through his eBay seller “User ID, ” “mws5000.” Id. at ¶ 10.

         Defendant allegedly infringed Plaintiff's copyrights by copying, reproducing, distributing, and selling unauthorized copies of the Program; specifically, a DVD boxed set of New Girl Season 1 (the “DVDs”). See id. at ¶ 12; Decl. of Daniel Kim (“Kim Decl.”) ¶ 4.

         On May 4, 2016, an employee of IPCybercrime.com, LLC (“IPCybercrime”), an investigator of intellectual property crimes, purchased a copy of the DVDs on an eBay auction posted by user mws5000 and received it by mail on May 16, 2016. Declaration of Robert L. Holmes (“Holmes Decl.”) ¶ 2; Mot. Ex. A. The employee paid Defendant via PayPal and sent payment to the email address “mattsaundry@gmail.com” Id.

         Plaintiff reviewed the allegedly infringing DVDs and determined they were unauthorized copies of the Program based on their digital content and the fact that the quality and format of the DVD disc art was “inconsistent with and inferior to authorized versions” of the Program. Kim Decl. ¶ 4. Moreover, the DVDs had Plaintiff's logo, listed Plaintiff's location in Beverly Hills, California, and contained other identifying information. Mot. 3:12-16. The DVDs also had typographical errors on the package regarding Plaintiff's copyright notice. Id.

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendant on November 14, 2016, alleging a claim for copyright infringement, 17 U.S.C. §§ 501, et seq. [1].

         Defendant was personally served on December 3, 2016 in Melbourne, Florida. ECF No. 14. On February 2, 2017, the parties stipulated that Defendant would have until February 24, 2017 to Answer the Complaint. ECF No. 10. Defendant did not answer or otherwise respond to the Complaint by February 24, 2017. Pursuant to Plaintiff's request, the Clerk entered default as to Defendant on March 16, 2017 per Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 55(a). ECF No. 16. On May 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Default Judgment. ECF No. 18. Defendant did not file an Opposition by the June 6, 2017 deadline. Plaintiff seeks the following damages: statutory damages totaling $240, 000 pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504(c); attorneys' fees totaling $8, 400; and post-judgment interest calculated at the rate set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1961(a). Mot. 2:3-9.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         The granting of default judgment is within the discretion of the district court. Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 55. Procedural and substantive requirements must be satisfied.

         Procedurally, the requirements set forth in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP” or “Rule”) 54(c) and 55(b), and Local Rule 55-1 must be met. See Vogel v. Rite Aid Corp., 992 F.Supp.2d 998, 1006 (C.D. Cal 2014). Local Rule 55-1 provides: “When an application is made to the Court for a default judgment, the application shall be accompanied by a declaration in compliance with F.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1) and/or (2) and include the following: (a) When and against what party the default was entered; (b) The identification of the pleading to which default was entered; (c) Whether the defaulting party is an infant or incompetent person, and if so, whether that person is represented by a general guardian, committee, conservator or other representative; (d) That the Service Members Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. § 521, does not apply; and (e) That notice has been served on the defaulting party, if required by F.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).” L.R. 55-1.

         Courts should also consider the following factors in determining whether to grant a motion for default judgment: “(1) the possibility of prejudice to plaintiff, (2) the merits of plaintiff's substantive claims, (3) the sufficiency of the complaint, (4) the sum of money at stake in the action, (5) the possibility of a dispute concerning the material facts, (6) whether defendant's default was the product of excusable neglect, and (7) the strong public policy favoring decisions on the merits.” Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986).

         If the court determines that the defendant is in default, “‘the factual allegations of the complaint, other than those relating to damages, are taken as true.'” Televideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917-18 (9th Cir. 1987) (quoting Geddes v. United Fin. Group, 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977)). Additionally, “[w]hen entry of judgment is sought against a party who has failed to plead or otherwise defend, a district court has an affirmative duty to look into its jurisdiction over both the subject matter and the parties.” In re Tuli, 172 F.3d 707, 712 (9th Cir. 1999).

         If the Court determines that the allegations in the complaint are sufficient to establish liability, the plaintiff must provide proof of all damages sought in the complaint, and the Court must determine the “amount and character” of the relief that should be awarded. Vogel, 992 F.Supp.2d at 1005-06 (citations omitted). “A default judgment must not differ in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is demanded in the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(c).

         B. Analysis

         1. Jurisdiction and Service of Process are Proper

         In considering whether to enter default judgment against Defendant, the Court must first determine whether it has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the ...


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