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AMC Film Holdings LLC v. Max J. Rosenberg

April 28, 2006

AMC FILM HOLDINGS LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MAX J. ROSENBERG, REARGUARD PRODUCTIONS, INC., AND TV MATTERS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurley, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

On October 19, 2005, this Court granted the motion by defendant TV Matters for an entry of default judgment on its cross-claims against defendants Rearguard Productions, Inc. ("Rearguard") and Max J. Rosenberg ("Rosenberg"), and referred the case to Magistrate Judge Arlene Rosario Lindsay, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(3), for a report and recommendation as to damages and attorney's fees. On March 1, 2006, Judge Lindsay issued a Report and Recommendation (the "Report") that Plaintiff be awarded $0.00 in attorney's fees and costs and $0.00 in damages. Presently before the Court are TV Matters' objections to the Report, which were timely filed.

BACKGROUND

I. TV Matters' Claims

On August 5, 2003, Plaintiff AMC Film Holdings LLC ("Plaintiff") initiated the instant copyright infringement action against Rearguard, Rosenberg, and TV Matters. Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that it owned the copyrights to three motion pictures produced by Rosenberg.*fn1

Plaintiff acquired its rights through a series of assignments. Plaintiff further alleged that despite the fact that Rearguard had already assigned its rights to the motion pictures to Plaintiff's predecessor in interest years earlier, which ultimately led to Plaintiff's ownership, Rearguard later entered into a licensing agreement with TV Matters whereby Rearguard purported to authorize TV Matters to copy and distribute copies of the motion pictures.

On October 2, 2003, TV Matters answered the Complaint and filed cross-claims against Rearguard and Rosenberg. The cross-claims were later amended on March 16, 2004. TV Matters asserts four causes of action, viz. indemnity, breach of contract, fraud, and negligence. Neither Rosenberg nor Rearguard responded to either Plaintiff's Complaint or the cross-claims filed by TV Matters. Thereafter, TV Matters moved for a default judgment on its cross-claims. By Order dated October 19, 2005, TV Matters' motion was granted and the matter referred to Judge Lindsay for an inquest on damages and fees.

II. The Report

In recommending that TV Matters' application for damages and fees be denied, Judge Lindsay found that "the materials submitted by TV Matters in support of its damages claims are plagued by technical deficiencies." (Report at 3.) "For example, some of the exhibits are in another language or refer to transactions involving foreign currency without reference to a relevant conversion table, and other documents are partially illegible due to xeroxing errors which excised text." (Id. (citations to record omitted).)

Moreover, Judge Lindsay found that although TV Matters was asserting that it had incurred damages for breach of contract, and although the relevant contract had a choice of law provision providing that the law of the Netherlands governed, TV Matters argued in its submissions that New York law applied. In this regard, Judge Lindsay noted that "TV Matters has failed to explain to the Court why it contends that New York law rather than the law of the Netherlands should govern its claims for damages." (Id. at 4.) Because TV Matters "ignore[d]" the choice-of-law provision and "refer[red] solely to general New York damages law" in its submission, Judge Lindsay recommended that TV Matters' claim for damages resulting from Rearguard's breach of contract be denied. (Id. at 5.)

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) provides that when a magistrate judge issues a report and recommendation on a matter "dispositive of a claim or defense of a party," the district court judge shall make a de novo determination of any portion of the magistrate judge's disposition to which specific written objection has been made. Fed. R. of Civ. P. 72(b). Accordingly, the Court applies de novo review to those portions of the Report to which objections were raised. See id. The Court reviews those portions to which no objections have been filed ...


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