J & J Sports Productions Incorporated v. Meza-Jimenez et al

Filing 21

ORDER AND DEFAULT JUDGMENT - Plaintiff's motion for default judgment (Doc. 20 ) is granted. Default judgment is entered in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant Francisco Meza-Jimenez, individually and d/b/a Taqueria Cajeme, in the amount of $30,000, jointly and severally with the damages awarded previously against Defendants Nydia P. Meza and Taqueira Cajeme, LLC (see Doc. 19 ). Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 1/8/18. (EJA)

Download PDF
1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 10 No. CV-17-1320-PHX-DGC J & J Sports Productions, Inc., ORDER AND DEFAULT JUDGMENT 11 Plaintiff, 12 v. 13 Francisco J. Meza Jimenez, Nydia P. Meza, and Taqueria Cajeme, LLC, d/b/a Taqueria Cajeme, 14 15 Defendants. 16 17 Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions has filed a motion for default judgment against 18 Defendant Francisco J. Meza-Jimenez, individually and doing business as Taqueria 19 Cajeme, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b). Doc. 20. No response has 20 been filed. For reasons stated below, default judgment is appropriate. 21 I. Background. 22 Plaintiff obtains licenses to distribute pay-per-view programming to various 23 commercial establishments, including bars and restaurants. Plaintiff contracted for the 24 right to broadcast a boxing match between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Amir Khan and 25 related undercard bouts. The program aired May 7, 2016. 26 Plaintiff claims that Defendants intercepted the program and displayed it to the 27 public at Taqueria Cajeme, a Mexican restaurant and bar operated by Defendants and 28 located at 356 East University Drive in Mesa, Arizona. Plaintiff filed suit seeking 1 statutory damages for Defendants’ alleged violations of the Communications Act of 1934 2 and the Cable and Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, 3 47 U.S.C. §§ 553 and 605 et seq. Doc. 1. 4 Plaintiff served process on Defendant Meza-Jimenez on August 23, 2017. 5 Doc. 15. The Clerk entered his default three weeks later, after Defendant failed to answer 6 or otherwise respond to the complaint. Doc. 18. Plaintiff then filed the present motion 7 for default judgment Defendant Meza-Jimenez. Doc. 20.1 8 II. Default Judgment. 9 After default is entered by the clerk, the district court may enter default judgment 10 pursuant to Rule 55(b). The court’s “decision whether to enter a default judgment is a 11 discretionary one.” Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). Although the 12 court should consider and weigh relevant factors as part of the decision-making process, 13 it “is not required to make detailed findings of fact.” Fair Housing of Marin v. Combs, 14 285 F.3d 899, 906 (9th Cir. 2002). 15 The following factors may be considered in deciding whether default judgment is 16 appropriate: (1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff, (2) the merits of the claims, 17 (3) the sufficiency of the complaint, (4) the amount of money at stake, (5) the possibility 18 of factual disputes, (6) whether default is due to excusable neglect, and (7) the policy 19 favoring decisions on the merits. See Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 20 1986). In considering the merits and sufficiency of the complaint, the court accepts as 21 true the complaint’s well-pled factual allegations, but the plaintiff must establish all 22 damages sought in the complaint. See Geddes v. United Fin. Group, 559 F.2d 557, 560 23 (9th Cir. 1977). Having reviewed the complaint and default judgment motion, the Court 24 finds that the Eitel factors favor default judgment and statutory damages in the amount of 25 $30,000.00 are warranted. 26 27 1 28 The Court entered default judgment against Defendants Nydia P. Meza and Taqueria Cajeme, LLC, on October 16, 2017. Doc. 19. -2- 1 A. Possible Prejudice to Plaintiff. 2 The first Eitel factor weighs in favor of default judgment. Defendant failed to 3 respond to the complaint or otherwise appear in this action despite being served with the 4 complaint, the application for default, and the motion for default judgment. If Plaintiff’s 5 motion is not granted, Plaintiff “will likely be without other recourse for recovery.” 6 PepsiCo, Inc. v. Cal. Sec. Cans, 238 F. Supp. 2d 1172, 1177 (C.D. Cal. 2002). The 7 prejudice to Plaintiff in this regard supports the entry of default judgment. 8 B. Merits of the Claims and Sufficiency of the Complaint. 9 The second and third Eitel factors favor default judgment where, as in this case, 10 the complaint sufficiently states a plausible claim for relief under the Rule 8 pleading 11 standards. See id. at 1175; Danning v. Lavine, 572 F.2d 1386, 1388-89 (9th Cir. 1978). 12 Plaintiff seeks relief under 47 U.S.C. § 605. To be held liable for a violation this statute, 13 “a defendant must be shown to have (1) intercepted or aided the interception of, and 14 (2) divulged or published, or aided the divulging or publishing of, a communication 15 transmitted by the plaintiff.” Nat’l Subscription Television v. S & H TV, 644 F.2d 820, 16 826 (9th Cir. 1981). Section 605 applies to satellite television signals. DirecTV, Inc. v. 17 Webb, 545 F.3d 837, 844 (9th Cir. 2008). 18 Plaintiff has alleged that Defendant willfully intercepted and displayed the 19 licensed program on May 7, 2016. Plaintiff’s allegations are supported by the sworn 20 affidavit of investigator Amanda Hidalgo, who visited Taqueria Cajeme on May 7 and 21 saw the program being displayed on a television in the establishment. Doc. 20-3 at 2. 22 Hidalgo estimates that 45 patrons were watching the program. Id. 23 Because the well-pled factual allegations of the complaint are deemed true upon 24 default, see Geddes, 559 F.2d at 560, Plaintiff has shown that Defendant violated § 605. 25 The second and third factors favor default judgment. 26 C. Amount of Money at Stake. 27 Under the fourth Eitel factor, the Court considers the amount of money at stake in 28 relation to the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct. Plaintiff seeks $10,000 in statutory -3- 1 damages and $20,000 in enhanced statutory damages. Doc. 20-1 at 12-18. As previously 2 explained (Doc. 19 at 5), Defendants’ violation of § 605 was serious. They willfully 3 displayed the program to nearly 50 patrons. Doc. 20-3 at 2. Moreover, this is the 4 establishment’s second piracy offense. Doc. 20-1 at 16; see J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. 5 Meza, No. 2:16-cv-01214-JJT (D. Ariz. Nov. 14, 2015) (Doc. 21). 6 D. Possible Dispute Concerning Material Facts. 7 Given the sufficiency of the complaint and Defendant’s default, “no genuine 8 dispute of material facts would preclude granting [Plaintiff’s] motion.” PepsiCo, 238 F. 9 Supp. 2d at 1177. 10 E. 11 Plaintiff properly served Defendant with the summons and complaint. Doc 15. 12 It therefore is unlikely that Defendant’s failure to answer and the resulting default were 13 due to excusable neglect. Gemmel v. Systemhouse, Inc., No. CIV 04-187-TUC-CKJ, 14 2008 WL 65604, at *5 (D. Ariz. Jan. 3, 2008). This Eitel factor, like the other five 15 discussed above, weighs in favor of default judgment. Whether Default Was Due to Excusable Neglect. 16 F. Policy Favoring a Decision on the Merits. 17 The last factor usually weighs against default judgment given that cases “should 18 be decided on their merits whenever reasonably possible.” Eitel, 782 F.2d at 1472. The 19 mere existence of Rule 55(b), however, “indicates that this preference, standing alone, is 20 not dispositive.” PepsiCo, 238 F. Supp. 2d at 1177. Moreover, Defendant’s failure to 21 answer or otherwise respond to the complaint “makes a decision on the merits 22 impractical, if not impossible.” Id. Stated differently, it is difficult to reach the merits 23 when the opposing party is absent. The Court therefore is not precluded from entering 24 default judgment against Defendant. See id.; Gemmel, 2008 WL 65604, at *5. 25 G. 26 Six of the seven Eitel factors favor default judgment, and one factor is neutral. 27 Conclusion. The Court therefore concludes that default judgment is appropriate. 28 -4- 1 III. Damages. 2 “A default judgment may be entered without a hearing on damages when the 3 amount claimed is capable of ascertainment from definite figures contained in the 4 documentary evidence or in detailed affidavits.” Taylor Made Golf Co. v. Carsten 5 Sports, Ltd., 175 F.R.D. 658, 661 (S.D. Cal. 1997). 6 Plaintiff does not seek actual damages, but rather statutory damages pursuant to 7 47 U.S.C. § 605. Under this statute, “the party aggrieved may recover an award of 8 statutory damages for each violation of subsection (a) of this section involved in the 9 action in a sum of not less than $1,000 or more than $10,000, as the court considers 10 just[.]” § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II). The statute further states that when a violation “was 11 committed willfully and for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or 12 private financial gain, the court in its discretion may increase the award of damages, 13 whether actual or statutory, by an amount of not more than $100,000 for each violation.” 14 § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). In assessing statutory damages, the Court is mindful of the need to 15 deter piracy of licensed shows, as well as the importance of not putting restaurants or bars 16 out of business for a single violation. See Kingvision Pay-Per-View Ltd. v. Lake Alice 17 Bar, 168 F.3d 347, 350 (9th Cir. 1999) 18 Plaintiff requests $10,000 in statutory damages and $20,000 in enhanced statutory 19 damages, to be entered jointly and severally with previous awards against Defendants 20 Nydia Meza and Taqueria Cajeme, LLC. 21 Defendants pirated the program and displayed it to approximately 45 patrons. Doc. 20-3 22 at 2. 23 violation. Doc. 20-1 at 16. The Court finds the requested damages reasonable given this 24 willful conduct. See Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Wing Spot Chicken & Waffles, Inc., 25 920 F. Supp. 2d 659, 667-69 (E.D. Va. 2013) (awarding $4,000 in statutory damages and 26 $27,000 in enhanced damages for displaying a pirated program to 40 patrons); J & J 27 Sports Prods., Inc. v. McCausland, No. 1:10-CV-01564-TWP, 2012 WL 113786, at *3-4 28 (S.D. Ind. Jan. 13, 2012) (awarding $10,000 in statutory damages and $30,000 in The requested damages are reasonable. The showing was not an accident, and is the establishment’s second piracy -5- 1 enhanced damages for displaying a pirated program to 15 patrons). 2 IT IS ORDERED: 3 1. Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment (Doc. 20) is granted. 4 2. Default judgment is entered in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant 5 Francisco Meza-Jimenez, individually and d/b/a Taqueria Cajeme, in the 6 amount of $30,000, jointly and severally with the damages awarded 7 previously against Defendants Nydia P. Meza and Taqueira Cajeme, LLC 8 (see Doc. 19). 9 Dated this 8th day of January, 2018. 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -6-

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?