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J & J Productions, Inc. v. Monte Limar Sports Bar Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 8, 2017

J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC. Plaintiff,
v.
MONTE LIMAR SPORTS BAR INC. d/b/a MONTE LIMAR SPORTS BAR and YAHAIRA SOTO Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          GLASSER, Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc. (“J & J” or “Plaintiff”) alleges various violations of the Federal Communications Act of 1934, codified at 47 U.S.C. §§ 553 and 605, against defendants Monte Limar Sports Bar Inc (“Monte Limar”) and its principal, Yahaira Soto (“Soto”). Defendants were duly served but failed to appear. J & J obtained a certificate of default and now moves the Court to enter default judgment and award damages. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff has initiated hundreds of cases in this District, and has moved for default judgment in over one hundred of them. The facts of each case, including this one, are virtually identical. J & J licenses the rights to exhibit closed-circuit, pay-per-view television events. ECF 1, Complaint (“Complt.”), at ¶¶ 8, 10. Commercial establishments contract with J & J to access a closed-circuit event and televise it to their clientele in exchange for a fee. Id. at ¶ 10. Transmission of the events is electronically coded, and can only be accessed with electronic decoding equipment provided to those establishments that contract with J & J. Id. at ¶¶ 11, 13. J & J owned the exclusive distribution rights in New York to the May 3, 2014 boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana (the “Match”). Commercial establishments in New York that exhibited the Match were required to obtain authorization from J & J. Id. at ¶¶ 7, 10. J & J advertised the Match on a rate sheet (the “Rate Sheet”), which lists the cost to televise the Match based on the capacity of the establishment. ECF 15-3.

         Monte Limar is an establishment located in Queens, New York. Complt. at ¶ 5. Monte Limar did not obtain the required authorization from J & J to broadcast the Match, but nonetheless intercepted and televised it on its premises. Id. at ¶¶ 12, 14. J & J submits an affidavit from a third party auditor who swears she visited Monte Limar on May 4, 2013 at 12:50 a.m. and witnessed the Match broadcast on seven televisions while approximately 100 patrons were present. ECF 15-2. The affidavit states that there was no cover charge for admission and that the establishment did not advertise or promote the telecast in any way. Id.

         J & J initiated this action on June 29, 2015, alleging various violations of the Federal Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. §§ 553 and 605. Defendants were duly served on July 22, 2015, but never appeared.[1] ECF 4, 5, 13-3; ECF 15, Aff. of Plaintiff's Counsel, at ¶ 1. A certificate of default was entered on September 3, 2015. ECF 7. J & J moved for default judgment on January 6, 2016. ECF 10. After this Court identified a number of deficiencies in its moving papers, J & J withdrew the motion. ECF 11. J & J moved for default judgment again on March 17, 2016, which motion is now before the Court. ECF 14.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standards

         A. Default Judgment

         Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure prescribes a two-step process for obtaining a default judgment. Step one requires the court clerk to enter the defendant's default “[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend.” Fed.R.Civ.P. § 55(a). Plaintiff then moves for default judgment, and it “remains for the court to consider whether the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action . . .” See Labarbera v. ASTC Labs., Inc., 752 F.Supp.2d 263, 270 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). The court must accept plaintiff's “factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor, ” while also determining whether plaintiff's allegations establish defendant's liability as a matter of law. Finkel v. Romanowicz, 577 F.3d 79, 84 (2d Cir. 2009). The court may “require proof of necessary facts and need not agree that the alleged facts constitute a valid cause of action.” Au Bon Pain Corp. v. Artect, Inc., 653 F.2d 61, 65 (2d Cir. 1981).

         B. Communications Act of 1934

         Section 553 of the Communications Act provides that a person shall not, without authorization, “intercept or receive or assist in intercepting or receiving any communications service offered over a cable system.” 47 U.S.C. § 553(a)(1). Similarly, Section 605 states that an unauthorized person may not “intercept any radio communication and divulge or publish the . . . contents . . . of such intercepted communications to any person.” 47 U.S.C. § 605(a).

         II. Liability

         Plaintiff asserts claims under Sections 553 and 605 of the Communications Act. Although conduct may violate both provisions, “in such circumstances, the court should award damages only under Section 605.” J & J Sports Prod., Inc. v. El Ojo Aqua Corp., 13-CV-6173 (ENV) (JO), 2014 WL 4700014, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 29, 2014), R&R adopted, 2014 WL 4699704 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 22, 2014) (citing cases). ...


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