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J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Onyx Ultimate Bar and Grill LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 8, 2018

J&J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC.
v.
ONYX ULTIMATE BAR AND GRILL LLC, ET AL.

RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 10) filed by Plaintiff J&J Sports Productions, Inc., in which Plaintiff seeks a default judgment against Defendants Onyx Ultimate Bar and Grill LLC. ("Onyx") and Nettie Brown ("Brown"). Jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For the following reasons, the Motion for Default Judgement (Doc. 10) is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a nationwide distributor of closed circuit pay-per-view events. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 2). Through a valid and enforceable contract, Plaintiff purchased commercial distribution and broadcast (closed circuit) rights to "Mayhem" Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Marcos Rene Maidana, II WBC World Lightweight Championship Fight Program ("the Program"). (Doc. 10-11 at p. 2). Through sublicensing agreements, Plaintiff granted various entities limited rights to display the Program on September 13, 2014, at their respective establishments. (Id.). Defendants Onyx and Brown, its sole manager (see Doc. 10-13), did not have a sublicensing agreement with Plaintiff nor any right to broadcast the Program. (Doc. 10-8). However, at the time of the Program's transmission, Plaintiff claims that Defendants knowingly and unlawfully "intercepted, received, published, divulged, displayed, and/or exhibited" the Program at its establishment. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff also asserts that Brown "specifically and wilfully [sic]" directed employees to illegally intercept and broadcast the Program on the premises. (Id. at ¶ 14).

         Plaintiff subsequently filed its Complaint on August 27, 2017, asserting violations of the Federal Communications Act ("FCA"), Title 47 U.S.C. § 605, the Wire Tap Act, Title 18 U.S.C. § 2511 in conjunction with § 2520, and the FCA, Title 47 U.S.C. § 553. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 2). Plaintiff seeks statutory damages, attorney's fees and costs under § 605, § 2520, and § 553. (Id. at p. 13). The Clerk of Court entered a default on November 2, 2017, because Defendants failed to file an Answer or motion under Rule 12. (Doc. 8). Plaintiff then filed the pending Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. 10).

         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.; NewYork 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.3d at 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., 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 Defendants failed to file an Answer or motion under Rule 12. Second, it is undisputed that Defendants have not responded to any of Plaintiffs attempts to contact him. Third, the grounds for granting a default judgment against Defendants 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 Defendants' failure to respond was the result of a good faith mistake or excusable neglect because Defendants have failed to respond to Plaintiff or to the Court. Fifth, Defendants' 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 Defendants. 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 judgment. Plaintiff sued Defendants under, (1) 47 U.S.C. § 605(a), which prohibits interception and publishing radio communication; (2) 18 U.S.C. § 2511, which prohibits intentional interception of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, in conjunction with § 2520, which creates a private right of action; and (3) 47 U.S.C. § 553, which prohibits interception or reception of any communications service offered over a cable system. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants willfully and ...


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