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Dallas Buyers Club, L.L.C. v. Doe-174.64.14.54

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

October 18, 2017

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, L.L.C., ET AL.
v.
DOE-174.64.14.54, ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 34) filed by Plaintiffs Dallas Buyers Club, LLC and Glacier Films (USA), Inc., in which Plaintiffs seek a default judgment against Defendant Jeffery Johnson.[1] Jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For the following reasons, the Motion for Default Judgement (Doc. 34) is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendant unlawfully reproduced and distributed their copyrighted movies-Dallas Buyers Club and American Heist-over 250 times, using a peer-to-peer file transfer program called BitTorrent. (Doc 27. at ¶¶ 8, 18, 44). Plaintiffs sued Defendant for copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. § 106. Id. at ¶ 53. Plaintiffs seek statutory damages, attorney's fees, and costs under § 504 and § 505. Id. at ¶ 58. Plaintiffs also seek an injunction barring Defendant from, among other things, infringing Plaintiffs' rights, and from using BitTorrent to distribute any content in violation of U.S. copyright law. Id. at p. 15.

         The Clerk of Court entered a default on December 5, 2016. (Doc. 32). Plaintiffs then filed the pending Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. 34).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has adopted a three step process to obtain a default judgment. See New York Life Ins. Co. v. Brown, 84 F.3d 137, 141 (5th Cir. 1996). First, a default occurs when a party "has failed to plead or otherwise defend" against an action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Next, an entry of default must be entered by the clerk when the default is shown "by affidavit or otherwise." See id.; New York Life, 84 F.3d at 141. Third, a party may apply to the court for a default judgment after an entry of default. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b); New York Life, 84 F.3dat 141.

         After a party files for a default judgment, courts must apply a two-part process to determine whether a default judgment should be entered. First, a court must consider whether the entry of default judgment is appropriate under the circumstances. Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 161 F.3d 886, 893 (5th Cir. 1998). Several factors are relevant to this inquiry, including: (1) whether there are material issues of fact at issue, (2) whether there has been substantial prejudice, (3) whether the grounds for default have been clearly established, (4) whether the default was caused by excusable neglect or good faith mistake, (5) the harshness of the default judgment, and (6) whether the court would think itself obliged to set aside the default on a motion by Defendant. Id.

         Second, the Court must assess the merits of the plaintiffs claims and determine whether the plaintiff has a claim for relief. Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975); Hamdan v. Tiger Bros. Food Mart, Inc., No. CV 15-00412, 2016 WL 1192679, at *2 (M.D. La. Mar. 22, 2016).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Default Judgment is Appropriate under the Lindsey Factors

         The Court must first decide whether the entry of default judgment is appropriate under the circumstances, by considering the Lindsey factors. First, there are no material facts in dispute because Defendant failed to file an Answer or motion under Rule 12. Second, it is undisputed that Defendant has not responded to any of Plaintiffs attempts to contact him. Third, the grounds for granting a default judgment against the Defendant are clearly established, as evidenced by the action's procedural history and the Clerk's entry of default. Fourth, the Court has no basis to find that Defendant's failure to respond was the result of a good faith mistake or excusable neglect because the Defendant has failed to respond to Plaintiffs or to the Court. Fifth, Defendant's failure to file any responsive pleading or motion mitigates the harshness of a default judgment. Finally, the Court is not aware of any facts that would lead it to set aside the default judgment if challenged by the Defendant. The Court therefore finds that the six Lindsey factors weigh in favor of default.

         B. The Sufficiency of the Pleadings

         The Court must also determine whether Plaintiffs' pleadings provide a sufficient basis for a default judgement. Plaintiffs sued Defendant for copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. § 106. A plaintiff must establish two elements for a valid copyright infringement claim: "(1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) the copying of constituent elements of the work that are original." BWP Media USA, Inc. v. T & S Software Assocs., Inc., 852 F.3d 436, 439 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting Fiest Publ'ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel, Serv., Co.,499 U.S. 340, 361 (1991)). A claimant must also show volitional conduct in direct copyright-infringement cases. See BWP Media, 852 F.3d at 444. Reproducing or distributing copies of ...


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