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G & G Closed Circuit Events, LLC v. Barajas-Quijada

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 7, 2020

G & G CLOSED CIRCUIT EVENTS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
RAMON A. BARAJAS-QUIJADA and GUSTAVO GARCIA, JR., individually and doing business as CULICHI SUSHI AND MARISCOS, Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT (DOC. 11)

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         G & G Closed Circuit Events, LLC seeks the entry of default judgment against Ramon A. Barajas-Quijada and Gustavo Garcia, Jr, individually and doing business as Culichi Sushi and Mariscos. (Doc. 11) Defendants have not opposed this motion. The Court found the matter suitable for decision without an oral hearing, and the matter was taken under submission pursuant to Local Rule 230(g). For the following reasons, the Court recommends Plaintiff's motion for default judgment be GRANTED IN PART, in the modified amount of $13, 100.

         I. Procedural History

         G & G Closed Circuit Events, LLC asserts the company possessed the exclusive rights to the nationwide commercial distribution of “Saul ‘Canelo' Alvarez v. Gennady ‘GGG' Golovkin II Championship Fight Program, ” (“the Program”) televised on September 15, 2018. (Doc. 1 at 5, ¶ 20) However, Plaintiff contends Defendants broadcast the Program at Culichi Sushi and Mariscos without paying the requisite fee. (Id., ¶¶ 16-17) Defendants were served with the summons and complaint filed on September 10, 2019 (Docs. 6-7) but failed to respond within the time prescribed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Upon application of Plaintiff, default was entered on October 30, 2019. (Docs. 8-9)

         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 Court accepts Plaintiff's factual assertions because default has been entered against Defendants. 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 subsequent sublicensing agreements with various commercial entities throughout North America” to broadcast the Program within their establishments, such as “hotels, racetracks, casinos, bars, taverns, restaurants, [and] social clubs.” (Doc. 1 at 5, ¶¶ 20-21)

         Plaintiff alleges the Program was broadcast at Culichi Sushi and Mariscos without the purchase of a proper sublicense from Plaintiff. (Doc. 1 at 5-6, ¶ 23) Plaintiff asserts Defendants were each “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 Culichi Sushi and Mariscos operating at 3017 Wilson Road, Bakersfield, California 93304.” (Id. at 3, ¶¶ 7, 9)

         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. (See generally Doc. 1 at 5-11) In the application for default judgment, Plaintiff requests damages for the violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605 and conversion. (See Doc. 11-1) 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, 1200-01 (C.D. Cal. 2012). Therefore, the Court finds Plaintiff would be prejudiced if default judgment is not granted.

         B. Merits of Plaintiff's claims and the sufficiency of the complaint

         Given the kinship of these factors, the Court considers the merits of Plaintiff's substantive claims and the sufficiency of the complaint together. See Premier Pool Mgmt. Corp. v. Lusk, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63350, at *13 (E.D. Cal. May 4, 2012). The Ninth Circuit has suggested that, when combined, the factors require a plaintiff to “state a claim on which the plaintiff may recover.” Pepsico, Inc., 238 F.Supp.2d at 1175. Notably, a ‚Äúdefendant is not held to ...


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