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J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. El Tapatio, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 17, 2019

J&J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
EL TAPATIO, INC. t/a EL TAPATIO MEXICAN RESTAURANT, et al. Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Gina L. Simms, United States Magistrate Judge

         This Report and Recommendation addresses the “Motion for Judgment by Default” (the “Motion”), filed by the J&J Sports Production, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) against El Tapatio, Inc. t/a El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant, Beronica Navarro, and Ruben Navarro Mendez (collectively, the “Defendants”). (ECF No. 15).

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule (“L.R.”) 301, the Honorable Theodore D. Chuang referred this matter to the undersigned to author a report and make recommendations concerning default judgment and/or damages. The relevant issues have been briefed, and I do not believe an additional hearing is necessary. L.R. 105.6. As set forth more fully below, I ultimately recommend that the Court GRANT Plaintiff's Motion and award Plaintiff $20, 540 in damages and other relief.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The facts, as set forth in Plaintiff's Complaint, are that J&J Sports Productions, Inc. is a California corporation engaged in the commercial distribution and licensing of sporting events. (ECF No. 1). On April 23, 2015, Plaintiff entered an agreement that granted it exclusive closed- circuit television distribution rights to “The Fight of the CenturyFloyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Manny Pacquiao Championship Fight Program (the “Program”), which was to broadcast nationally on May 2, 2015. (ECF No. 1-2). Plaintiff subsequently entered into sublicensing agreements with various commercial establishments, which purchased the rights to exhibit the Program. (ECF No. 1). The transmission of the Program was encrypted and available only to those establishments that paid the sublicensing fee. (ECF No. 15-8).

         Brian Stephens, an investigator hired by Plaintiff, declared in a sworn affidavit that, on May 3, 2015 at 12:43 a.m., he paid a $10 cover charge to enter El-Tapatio Mexican Restaurant and observed the final round of the Program being shown on a large projection screen and on six other flat screen televisions positioned throughout the restaurant. (ECF No. 15-7).

         B. Procedural Background

         On April 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint asserting claims that the Defendants engaged in unauthorized interception of communications through a cable system, in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 553; and unauthorized interception of a wire or radio communication, in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants violated these statutes by showing the Program without authorization “for the purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage.” (Id.).

         On April 13, 2018, Plaintiff served the summonses and the Complaint upon Ruben Navarro Mendez and Beronica Navarro. (ECF Nos. 5 - 6). On June 1, 2018, Plaintiff served a summons and the Complaint on El Tapatio, Inc. (ECF No. 8). Thereafter, Plaintiff moved for entry of default against the Defendants. (ECF Nos. 9-10; 13). The Clerk of the Court entered default on June 12, 2018, against the individual defendants, and against El Tapatio, Inc. on August 3, 2018. (ECF Nos. 11-12; 14).

         On August 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed a “Motion for Judgment by Default” seeking statutory damages, attorneys' fees, and costs in the amount of $20, 540.00. (ECF No. 15). To date, the Defendants have not filed an Answer nor otherwise responded to the Complaint.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Default Judgment

         Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs default judgments. Upon motion of a party, Rule 55(a) provides that a default judgment can be entered when a defendant fails to “plead or otherwise defend in accordance with [Rule ...


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