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Homkow v. Musika Records

February 25, 2008

JUSTIN HOMKOW, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MUSIKA RECORDS, INC., ALEXANDER LIM, RAFAEL AGUDELO, AND JOHN DOES NOS. 1-10, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kimba M. Wood, U.S.D.J.

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Justin Homkow ("Plaintiff") brings this action against Defendants Musika Records, Inc. ("Musika Records"); Alexander Lim ("Lim"); Rafael Agudelo ("Agudelo")(collectively, "Defendants"); and John Does Nos. 1-10 asserting, inter alia, copyright infringement. This action arose after Plaintiff hired Defendants to produce an orchestral recording entitled "The Music of George Washington's Life: A Symphonic Journey," based on historical music researched and compiled by Plaintiff (the "George Washington Music Project"). (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2-3.)

On May 30, 2006, this Court granted a default judgment against Defendants with respect to the eleven claims asserted in the Amended Complaint, and referred the action to Magistrate Judge Katz for an inquest into damages. (D.E. 32.) On August 22, 2007, Magistrate Judge Katz issued a Report and Recommendation (the "Report") analyzing only Plaintiff's copyright infringement claim and recommending that the Court award Plaintiff injunctive relief, but deny Plaintiff all other requested relief. (D.E. 46.) Plaintiff filed timely objections to the Report.

For the reasons stated below, the Court awards the recommended injunctive relief, denies all other relief under Plaintiff's copyright infringement claim, and grants Plaintiff another opportunity to pursue damages with respect to his other ten claims.

I. Procedural Posture

Following the referral of this case for an inquest into damages, Magistrate Judge Katz issued a June 12, 2006 Order (the "First Inquest Order"). The First Inquest Order directed Plaintiff to submit proposed findings with respect to the damages being sought. Magistrate Judge Katz ordered that "[t]he findings should specifically tie the proposed damage figure to the legal claim(s) in the [Amended] Complaint on which liability has now been established; should demonstrate how the damage claim was arrived at; and should provide legal and factual support for the amount and type of damages and other relief being sought." (First Inquest Order 1.)

On June 28, 2006, Plaintiff submitted his "Proposed Findings and Conclusions of Damages" (the "First Inquest Submission"). (D.E. 37.) This submission sought damages for each of the eleven claims asserted in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.

On March 5, 2007, Magistrate Judge Katz issued an Order (the "Second Inquest Order") observing that "[t]here is virtually no legal authority provided in Plaintiff's submission, and the Court does not intend to rubber stamp Plaintiff's request for relief, or undertake on its own, the legal research Plaintiff's attorney was required to do." (Second Inquest Order 3, D.E. 39.) The Second Inquest Order directed Plaintiff to file another submission and reiterated the directive of the First Inquest Order that "for each claim on which relief is being sought, Plaintiff shall provide legal authority which sets forth the elements of the claim, and then shall demonstrate how the facts deemed admitted in the Amended Complaint satisfy those elements." (Id. at 2.)

On March 30, 2007, Plaintiff submitted his "Proposed Calculation of Actual Damages Against Defendants" ("Second Inquest Submission"). (D.E. 41.) The Second Inquest Submission focused exclusively on Plaintiff's copyright infringement claim. Defendants opposed the Second Inquest Submission. (D.E. 44.) Plaintiff responded to Defendants' opposition. (D.E. 45.)

On August 22, 2007, Magistrate Judge Katz issued the Report, familiarity with which is assumed. The Report focused exclusively on Plaintiff's copyright infringement claim and recommended "that a Default Judgment be entered against Defendants, providing only injunctive relief." (Report 2.) Specifically, the Report recommended that the Court (1) grant injunctive relief; (2) deny actual damages in the form of lost profits; and (3) deny attorney's fees.

Plaintiff filed timely written objections to the Report. Defendants timely responded to Plaintiff's objections, but filed no objections of their own.

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review for a Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation

Where no timely written objections have been filed, the Court reviews a magistrate judge's report and recommendation for clear error. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b) advisory committee's note. However, where a party has filed timely written objections, the Court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).

Plaintiff raised three broad objections to the Report: (1) Magistrate Judge Katz erred in denying the award of damages under Plaintiff's copyright infringement claim; (2) Magistrate Judge Katz erred in denying the award of attorney's fees under Plaintiff's copyright infringement claim; and (3) Magistrate Judge Katz erred in focusing exclusively on Plaintiff's copyright infringement claim and thereby failing to consider Plaintiff's other ten claims. (Pl.'s Objections, D.E. 49.) The Court reviews de novo the portions of the Report to which ...


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