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J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Liquor U.S. UP, L.L.C.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 11, 2019

J&J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC.
v.
LIQUOR U.S. UP L.L.C., ET AL.

         SECTION: “J” (5)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          CARL J. BARBIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings (Rec. Doc. 18) filed by Defendants, Emile Colona and Shirley Little, and an opposition thereto (Rec. Doc. 19) filed by Plaintiff, J&J Sports Productions, Inc. Having considered the motion and legal memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the motion should be DENIED.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This litigation arises from the May 2, 2015 reception and display at Castaways Lounge in Hammond, Louisiana of the televised fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. J&J Sports Production, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) is a California corporation and distributor of closed circuit pay-per view[1] boxing and special events in the United States. After allegedly hiring a private investigator to capture video footage of the events that transpired at Castaways Lounge on the date in question, Plaintiff filed the instant suit against Liquor Us Up, L.L.C. d/b/a Castaways Lounge, Emile Colona, and Shirley Little (collectively “Defendants”). Plaintiff's Complaint indicates that Liquor Us Up, L.L.C. (“the LLC”) is a Louisiana limited liability company doing business as Castaways Lounge. Colona and Little-both Louisiana domiciliaries-are the LLC's sole members.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants committed certain acts and omissions that violated Plaintiff's rights as the exclusive commercial domestic distributor of the televised fight program at issue. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' actions were in violation of Title 47 U.S.C. Section 605, Title 18 U.S.C. sections 2511 and 2250, and Title 47 U.S.C. Section 553(a)(1), (c)(1), (2), (B), (C), 3(A), (B)). Colona and Little filed the instant motion for partial judgment on the pleadings (Rec. Doc. 18), which Plaintiff opposes (Rec. Doc. 19).

         PARTIES' ARGUMENTS

         1. Movant's Argument

         Colona and Little argue that this Court should grant judgment on the pleadings in their favor and dismiss them from the instant lawsuit with prejudice because Plaintiff's pleadings fail to state a cause of action against them in their individual capacity sufficient to pierce the corporate veil in Louisiana. (Rec. Doc. 18).

         Colona and Little first aver that Terry Couch, the manager of Castaways Lounge, ordered the pay-per view fight at issue through the Charter Communications cable box located in the bar room. (Rec. Doc. 18-1 at 1). Colona and Little allege that Terry Couch believed that ordering the fight on the cable box that was installed in the business was “sufficient and proper.” (Rec. Doc. 18-1 at 1). Colona and Little note that although the private detective who Plaintiff dispatched to Castaways Lounge recorded the activities that occurred at the bar on the evening in question, the video does not show Colona and Little-the LLC members-anywhere on the premises. (Rec. Doc. 18-1 at 1, 2).

         Colona and Little go on to argue that under the Louisiana Supreme Court's decision in Ogea v. Travis Merritt & Merritt Construction, LLC, 130 So.3d 888 (La. 2013), the general rule in Louisiana is that “no member, manager, employee, or agent of a limited liability company is liable in such capacity for a debt, obligation, or liability of the limited liability company UNLESS fraud, breach of professional duty, or other negligent or wrongful act was committed by the member.” (Rec. Doc. 18-1 at 3). Colona and Little assert that Plaintiff cannot maintain an action against them as members of the LLC because Plaintiff has not shown that Colona and Little committed fraud, a breach of professional duty, or some other negligent or wrongful act in accordance with Louisiana Revised Statute 12:1320(D). (Rec. Doc. 18-1 at 5). Specifically, Colona and Little aver that (1) Plaintiff's pleadings contain no allegation of fraud, (2) the professional liability exception is not applicable, and (3) Colona and Little did not commit a negligent or wrongful act because they were not present at Castaways Lounge on the evening of the fight program. (Rec. Doc. 18-1 at 5 to 7). Thus, Colona and Little conclude that they should be dismissed from the present action with prejudice and at Plaintiff's cost. (Rec. Doc. 18-1 at 7).

         2. Plaintiff's Opposition

         Plaintiff argues that Colona and Little's motion should be denied. (Rec. Doc. 19). First, Plaintiff asserts that the LLC, Colona, and Little committed the intentional tort of conversion. (Rec. Doc. 19-1 at 2). Plaintiff notes that there was no contractual or other obligation between Plaintiff and Defendants, Colona and Little acted on behalf of the LLC, and Colona and Little knew that Plaintiff's fight program was going to be shown at Castaways Lounge on May 2, 2015. (Rec. Doc. 19-1 at 2, 3). Plaintiff points to the allegations in its Complaint that Colona and Little “planned in advance to show the [televised fight program] on the defendant limited liability company's premises and they were prepared to obtain as much income as possible from alcohol served to their customers.” (Rec. Doc. 19-1 at 3). Moreover, Plaintiff alleges that Colona and Little “actively desired to obtain [Plaintiff's] [televised fight program] without having to pay [Plaintiff's] license fee.” (Rec. Doc. 19-1 at 4).

         Next, Plaintiff argues that the televised fight program was used to attract customers to Castaways Lounge to drink alcoholic beverages and patronize Colona and Little's business. (Rec. Doc. 19-1 at 4). Plaintiff emphasizes that as members of the LLC, Colona and Little had the same “economic motives” as the LLC; namely, to create an atmosphere that enticed customers to visit the business and spend money. (Rec. Doc. 19-1 at 4, 5). In support of this contention, Plaintiff points to the allegation in its Complaint that “Defendants advertised that they ...


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