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CABLEVISION SYSTEMS NEW YORK CITY CORP. v. COLLINS

June 29, 2004.

CABLEVISION SYSTEMS NEW YORK CITY CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
CATHERINE COLLINS, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: FRANK MAAS, Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION TO THE HONORABLE RICHARD OWEN[fn*]

[fn*] This Report and Recommendation was prepared with the assistance of Heather Burke, a first-year student at Fordham Law School.

I. Introduction

  In this action, plaintiff Cablevision Systems New York ("Cablevision") alleges that defendant Catherine Collins ("Collins") violated the Cable Communications Policy Act, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 605(a) and 553(a)(1), by tampering with Cablevision's television system in order to receive its private telecommunications signals unlawfully through use of a "pirate" converter device. After Collins failed to answer the complaint, Your Honor entered a default judgment and referred the matter to me to conduct an inquest regarding Cablevision's damages. (See Docket No. 4). On August 27, 2002, I directed Cablevision to serve and file an inquest memorandum by September 4, 2002, setting forth its proof of damages, as well as its proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. The scheduling order gave Collins until September 18, 2002, to respond. Although Cablevision's papers were timely filed, Collins has neither filed any opposition papers, nor had any contact with this Court.

  As detailed below, I recommend that Cablevision be awarded a total of $10,690, consisting of statutory damages in the amount of $10,000 plus reasonable attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $690.

  II. Standard of Review

  In light of Collins' default, Cablevision's well-pleaded allegations concerning issues other than damages must be accepted as true. See Cotton v. Slone, 4 F.3d 176, 181 (2d Cir. 1993); Greyhound Exhibitgroup, Inc. v. E.L.U.L. Realty Corp., 973 F.2d 155, 158 (2d Cir. 1992); Time Warner Cable of New York City v. Barnes, 13 F. Supp.2d 543, 547 (S.D.N.Y. 1998); Cablevision Sys. New York City Corp. v. Lokshin, 980 F. Supp. 107, 111 (E.D.N.Y. 1997).

  Additionally, although a plaintiff seeking to recover damages against a defaulting defendant must prove its claim through the submission of evidence, the Court need not hold a hearing as long as (i) it has determined the proper rule for calculating damages, see Credit Lyonnais Secs. (USA), Inc. v. Alcantara, 183 F.3d 151, 155 (2d Cir. 1999), and (ii) the plaintiff's evidence establishes, with reasonable certainty, the basis for the damages specified in the default judgment. See Transatlantic Marine Claims Agency, Inc. v. Ace Shipping Corp., 109 F.3d 105, 111 (2d Cir. 1997); Fustok v. ContiCommodity Servs., Inc., 873 F.2d 38, 40 (2d Cir. 1989); see also Tamarin v. Adam Caterers, Inc., 13 F.3d 51, 53-54 (2d Cir. 1993) (inquest on damages without hearing improper where based upon "single affidavit only partially based upon real numbers").

  III. Factual Findings

  On the basis of the complaint and Cablevision's inquest papers, I find as follows:

  Cablevision is a division of CSC Holdings, Inc., a Delaware corporation, authorized to conduct business in New York, which maintains its principal office at 1111 Stewart Avenue, Bethpage, New York. (Compl. ¶ 4).

  Collins, at all relevant times, resided at 2440 Boston Road, Apt. 17K, Bronx, New York. (Id. ¶ 4; Aff. of Charles Carroll, sworn to on Aug. 28, 2002 ("Carroll Aff."), ¶ 18).

  Pursuant to government franchises, Cablevision constructs, operates and maintains cable television systems in parts of Bronx County as well as other counties. (Compl. ¶ 6). Cablevision offers its customers various tiers of programming services including "Basic," "Family," and "Optimum" which a subscriber may purchase for a monthly fee. (Id. ¶ 7). "Basic" service provides a subscriber with broadcast stations as well as a small number of additional programming services. (Carroll Aff. ¶ 3). "Family" service is a higher level of programming that includes all of Cablevision's services with the exception of "premium" and pay-per-view programming. (Id.). "Optimum" service provides all programming available under "Family" service and premium stations. (Id.). A subscriber may pay for premium services at a higher monthly rate, or may choose to purchase pay-per-view programming for a pay-per-event fee in addition to the regular monthly fee. (Id. ¶¶ 4-5). Premium services include channels such as HBO, Cinemax and Showtime, and range in price from approximately $1.95 to $14.95 per month, while packages of premium services range in cost between $40.75 and $80.95. (Id. ¶ 4). Payper-view programming is offered continuously throughout a 24-hour period and consists of individual movies and sporting events. (Id. ¶ 5). The pay-per-view items typically cost a subscriber between approximately $4.50 and $49.95 per selection. (Id.). Over the course of a typical month, the aggregate value of Cablevision's pay-per-view programs, assuming each is viewed once, is hundreds of dollars. (Id.).

  Satellites transmit the signals for Cablevision's cable television services to Cablevision's reception facilities. (Compl. ¶ 10). Those signals then are retransmitted to subscriber's homes and businesses ...


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