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J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Ochoa

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 15, 2017

J & J Sports Productions, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Paula Ochoa, individually and d/b/a Taqueria's Paula a/k/a Carniceria y Taqueria Paula's, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          HONORABLE DAVID C. NYE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc.'s Motion for Default Judgment against Defendants Paula Ochoa, individually, and d/b/a Taqueria's Paula a/k/a Carniceria y Taqueria Paula's. Dkt. 8. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendants for the unlawful exhibition of the Miguel Cotto v. Sergio Martinez, WBC Middleweight Championship Fight Program (the Program) at the establishment doing business as Taqueria's Paula a/k/a Carniceria y Taqueria Paula's, on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Complaint ¶ 7. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for default judgment is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a distributor of sports and entertainment programming, and pursuant to contract, was granted the exclusive rights to broadcast the Program nationwide. Complaint ¶ 11. Plaintiff entered into agreements with sub-licensees to broadcast the Program for a fee. Complaint ¶ 13. Defendants did not obtain such a license and were not authorized to broadcast the Program. Nevertheless, an investigator observed, and later documented in a sworn affidavit, the unlawful exhibition of the Program at Taqueria's Paula a/k/a Carniceria y Taqueria Paula's, on Saturday, June 7, 2014, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The investigator documented one television broadcasting the Program and approximately 40 patrons present and watching. Defendant charged a $5.00 fee for entry.

         Plaintiff's Complaint was filed on June 5, 2017. Dkt. 1. Plaintiff served Defendants on June 17, 2017. Dkt. 4. No answer was ever filed. Plaintiff moved for entry of default by the Clerk on July 14, 2017, and the Clerk filed the Entry of Default on August 24, 2017. Dkt. 7. Nothing in the record indicates that Defendants have made any appearance in this action. Plaintiff seeks default judgment against Defendants, statutory damages of $60, 000 under 47 U.S.C. § 605, and attorney fees to be determined at a later date.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Default Judgment

         Once default has been entered by the clerk, it is within the district court's discretion to grant default judgment against that party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2); Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471 (9th Cir. 1986). When considering a motion for default judgment, “the factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating to the amount of damages, will be taken as true.” Televideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917 (9th Cir. 1987) (citations omitted); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b)(6) (“an allegation-other than one relating to the amount of damages-is admitted if a responsive pleading is required and the allegation is not denied.”).

         The Court may consider the factors articulated in Eitel v. McCool when determining whether to grant default judgment:

         “(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 . . . favoring decisions on the merits.” 782 F.2d at 1471-72.

         The majority of the Eitel factors support a default judgment in this case. Regarding factor (1) prejudice to the plaintiff-if the Court wholly denied the motion, J & J would be left without a remedy given defendants' failure to appear and defend themselves. Factors (2) and (3), regarding the sufficiency and merits of plaintiff's claims, also favor a default judgment and are discussed in the next section. Regarding factor (4) the sum of money at stake in this action-while substantial, it is not outside the range of damages typically requested in this type of case, as will also be discussed herein. As for factors (5) and (6), by virtue of Defendants' failure to appear, there is no evidence that there are disputed material facts or that Defendants' default was due to excusable neglect. The seventh factor-the policy favoring decisions on the merits-weighs against default judgment; however, as Defendants have failed to appear in this case, there is nothing the Court can do and such should not be held against Plaintiffs. On balance, the Eitel factors support Plaintiff's motion for default, therefore default judgment will be granted.

         II. Damages

         Next, the Court addresses damages. Although Plaintiff's Complaint originally requested relief under two statutory sections, 47 U.S.C. § 605(a) and 47 U.S.C. § 553(a), damages cannot be recovered under both. See J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Frei, No. 4:12-CV-0127-BLW, 2013 WL 3190685, at *2 (D. Idaho June 21, 2013). Accordingly, Plaintiff has asked for damages only under 47 U.S.C. § 605. The Court agrees that this statute should be used instead of 47 U.S.C. § 553. ...


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