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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Ruiz

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 13, 2019

JOE HAND PROMOTIONS, INC., as Broadcast Licensee of the August 26, 2017 Mayweather vs. McGregor Match, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID GONZALEZ RUIZ, Individually, and as officer, director, shareholder and/or principal of COTIPAZ, INC. d/b/a/ COTIJAS TACO SHOP; and COTIPAZ, INC. d/b/a COTIJAS TACO SHOP, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Hon. William Q. Hayes United States District Court

         The following matters are pending before the Court: 1) the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Cotipaz, Inc. and David Gonzalez Ruiz (ECF No. 22); and 2) the Cross Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (ECF No. 25).

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On August 16, 2018, Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (“Joe Hand”) filed a Complaint against Defendants David Gonzalez Ruiz and Cotipaz, Inc. (“Cotipaz”) (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff alleges that it was granted the exclusive rights of distribution and public performance in commercial establishments for the Mayweather vs. McGregor boxing match scheduled for August 26, 2017 (“the broadcast”). Id. at 3. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants willfully and unlawfully advertised, intercepted, and displayed the broadcast at Cotijas Taco Shop on August 26, 2017. Id. at 5, 8. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants never paid licensing fees, entered into an agreement, nor attained authorization from Plaintiff for the broadcast. Id. at 7, 12. Plaintiff brings claims for: (1) violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605(a) (unauthorized publication or use of communications); (2) violation of 47 U.S.C. § 553 (unauthorized reception of cable service); and (3) violation of 17 U.S.C. § 501(a) (copyright infringement). Id. at 10-11, 13.

         On May 31, 2019, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment supported by a separate statement of undisputed material facts, declarations, requests for admissions, interrogatories, and a request for production of documents. (ECF No. 22). On June 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 23) supported by a response to Defendant's separate statement of facts, Defendant's responses to Plaintiff's requests for admissions, requests for production of documents, and exhibits. (ECF No. 23). On June 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed an Affidavit. (ECF No. 24).

         On June 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Cross Motion for Summary Judgment supported by a separate statement of undisputed material facts and Defendant's responses to Plaintiff's requests for admissions. (ECF No. 25). On July 9, 2019, Defendants filed a Response in Opposition to the Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 27).

         On November 7, 2019, the Court heard oral argument on the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 22) and the Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 25). (ECF No. 30).

         II. FACTS

         Cotijas Taco Shop (“the Taco Shop”) is a restaurant located in San Diego, California (Ruiz Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 22-7 at 1) with an occupancy capacity of up to 50 patrons (Defs.' Resp. to Pl.'s Requests for Admissions, ECF No. 23-4 at 7). On August 26, 2017, Defendant Ruiz “owned the property” where the Taco Shop was located. Id. at 3. On July 16, 2018, Defendant Ruiz was listed as the “primary owner” and “licensee” of a liquor license for the business “Cotija Mex Grill.” (ECF No. 23-3 at 1). The liquor license was originally issued on January 2, 2013 with an expiration date of December 31, 2018. Id.

         On May 4, 2018, Defendant Ruiz was listed as the “President” of “Cotipaz, Inc.” in a Statement of Information filed with the Secretary of State of the State of California (ECF No. 23-5 at 1). On August 26, 2017, Defendant Ruiz was the “officer/principal of Cotipaz, Inc.” (Defs.' Resp. to Pl.'s Requests for Admissions, ECF No. 23-4 at 3). Cotipaz “is a business entity that operated a taco shop in Murrieta, Ca[lifornia].” (Ruiz Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 22-7 at 2). Defendant Ruiz and Israel Oseguera own Cotipaz. Id. Cotipaz has “no connection or affiliation with [the Taco Shop].” Id.

         On August 26, 2017, the Taco Shop was open for commercial business and served food and alcohol. (Defs.' Resp. to Pl.'s Requests for Admissions, ECF No. 23-4 at 4, 6). On August 26, 2017, Defendant Ruiz “had the capability of receiving satellite television, broadband, fios, firestick or similar android services and/or WI-FI broadcasts.” Id. at 5. On August 26, 2017, the Taco Shop “had the capability of receiving broadband, fios, firestick or similar android services, WI-FI and/or satellite television broadcasts on August 26, 2017.” Id. Defendants were not authorized by, in agreement with, nor had authority from Plaintiff to exhibit the broadcast in the Taco Shop. Id. at 5-6. On August 26, 2017, between 8:30 p.m. and 8:27 p.m. one television set in the Taco Shop was streaming the last match of an undercard fight of the broadcast. (ECF No. 23-2 at 1).

         On August 26, 2017, the Taco Shop was operating pursuant to a Commercial Lease Agreement (“CLA”) between Defendant Ruiz and Tenant Enrique Hernandez. (Ex. A, ECF No. 22-9 at 2). The CLA was in effect from February 15, 2017 to December 1, 2017. Id. The CLA provided that “Renter hereby leases the Leased Premises to Tenant, and Tenant hereby leases the same from Renter” and that “Tenant shall have possession of the lease premises.” Id. Pursuant to the CLA, Hernandez agreed to pay Defendant Ruiz $5, 000 per month in rent and “pay all charges for . . . electricity, telephone, and other services and utilities used . . . during the term of [the CLA].” Id. Under the CLA, Defendant Ruiz retained the ‘right to enter upon the Leased Premises at reasonable hours to inspect the same, provided [Defendant] Ruiz not thereby unreasonably interfere with Tenant's business on the Leased Premises.” Id. The CLA stated “Tenant will comply with the rules of the Leased Premises adopted and altered by [Defendant] Ruiz from time to time and will cause all of its agents, employees, invitees and visitors to do so; all changes to such rules will be sent by [Defendant] Ruiz to Tenant in writing.” Id.

         III. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A material fact is one that is relevant to an element of a claim or defense and whose existence might affect the outcome of the suit. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The materiality of a fact is determined by ...


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