J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS INC. v. SORIANO et al
ORDER granting Plaintiff's 17 Motion for Default Judgment; granting 23 Motion to Dismiss; granting 27 Motion to withdraw Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment and substitute attached Amended Motion for Default Judgment Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 9/29/2017. (JDC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
J&J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC.,
) Cause No. 1:15-cv-1581-WTL-TAB
MINERVA SORIANA, et al.,
ENTRY ON MOTION FOR DEFUALT JUDGMENT
This cause is before the Court on the Plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment (Dkt. No.
17). The Court held a hearing on the motion; the Defendants were given notice of the hearing
but did not appear. The Court, being duly advised, GRANTS the motion for default judgment to
the extent and for the reasons set forth below. The Court also GRANTS the Plaintiff’s motion to
dismiss Defendant Minerva Soriano (Dkt. No. 23) and DISMISSES the claims against her
without prejudice. Finally, the Court GRANTS the Plaintiff’s motion to withdraw its motion for
default judgment and replace it with an amended motion to correct certain scriveners errors in
the original (Dkt. No. 27). The Clerk is directed to note at Docket Number 17 that it has
been replaced with Docket Number 27.
Entry of default was made against Defendant Soriano’s Mexican Restaurant, LLC
(“Soriano’s”) on November 22, 2016. Dkt. No. 13. Following entry of default, “the well-pled
allegations of the complaint relating to liability are taken as true, but those relating to the amount
of damages suffered ordinarily are not.” Wehrs v. Wells, 688 F.3d 886, 892 (7th Cir. 2012).
“[O]nce a default has been established, and thus liability, the plaintiff must establish his
entitlement to the relief he seeks.” In re Catt, 368 F.3d 789, 793 (7th Cir. 2004). Therefore, on
proper application by a party for entry of default judgment, the court must conduct an inquiry in
order to ascertain the amount of damages with “reasonable certainty.” Id.
As alleged in the Complaint and established by the entry of default, Plaintiff J&J Sports
Productions, Inc. (“J&J”) purchased the exclusive national television distribution rights to
Timothy Bradley v. Juan Manuel Marquez, WBO Welterweight Championship Fight Program
(the “Program”) which was telecast on October 12, 2013. This included all under-card bouts and
fight commentary in the Program. An investigator for J&J, Jennifer Hart, visited Soriano’s on
the night of October 12, 2013, and observed the Program being broadcast at Soriano’s on three
televisions to between 22 and thirty customers. Soriano’s did not obtain a license from J&J to
broadcast the Program. Rather, Soriano’s willfully intercepted and broadcast the Program
without authorization in violation of either the Communications Act of 1934, Title 47 U.S.C.
605, et seq., or The Cable & Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, Title
47 U.S. Section 553, et seq.
As noted above, J&J asserts in its Complaint that Soriano’s violated one of two statutory
provisions: 47 U.S.C. § 553 or 47 U.S.C. § 605. “[T]he interception of cable television
programming as it travels through the air is to be governed by § 605, while the interception of
cable television programming traveling over a cable network (and specifically, the manufacture
and distribution of decoder boxes) is to be governed by § 553(a).” United States v. Norris, 88
F.3d 462, 468 (7th Cir. 1996). Under § 605(e)(3)(C)(i), a claimant may elect actual damages or
statutory damages. Statutory damages for each violation of § 605 range from $1,000 to $10,000,
as the court considers just. In addition, enhanced damages are available where the court finds
that the violation was committed willfully and for purposes of direct or indirect commercial
advantage or private financial gain. 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). In such cases, the court may in
its discretion increase the award of damages by an amount of not more than $100,000 for each
violation. Likewise, under § 553(c)(3)(A), a claimant may elect actual or statutory damages.
Statutory damages for each violation of § 553 range from $250 to $10,000, as the court considers
just. 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(A)(ii). In addition, enhanced damages are available where the court
finds that the violation was committed willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or
private financial gain. 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(B). However, under § 553, the upper limit for an
increase in damages that a court may award in its discretion is $50,000. Id.
The Plaintiffs have not provided any evidence to the Court regarding the manner
in which the Program was broadcast; rather, they have been prevented from discovering this
information by the Defendants’ failure to appear in this action. Because the damages the Court
ultimately considers just under these circumstances fall within the parameters of either statute,
and because the entry of default has established, as a factual matter, that either one or the other
statute has been violated, the Court need not definitely determine the applicable statute.
Turning first to actual or statutory damages, in its discretion, the Court imposes a
statutory damages award of $2,200, which is the amount that J&J would have been entitled to
from Soriano’s for a license to broadcast the Program, based on the investigator’s estimate that
Soriano’s has an occupancy capacity of between 100 and 150. See Dkt. No. 11 (establishing
licensing fees based on capacity). The Court considers this award just in light of the small size
of the crowd (22-30 patrons), the lack of a cover charge, and the fact that there is no evidence
that Soriano’s promoted the Program in order to entice additional customers to come to the
restaurant. The Court has considered J&J’s argument that basing the statutory damages award
on the license fee “sends the message to Defendants and other would-be signal pirates that it is
better to pirate Plaintiff’s signal illegally than to obtain the Program legally because if they are
caught then they will only have to pay what they were going to have to pay anyway for the
program.” Dkt. No. 27-4 at 3. However, rather than supporting a larger statutory fee award, the
Court finds that that argument supports an award of enhanced fees, which are akin to punitive
damages that are meant, in large part, as a deterrent.
Turning now to J&J’s request for enhanced damages, the Court finds that enhanced
statutory damages are appropriate. The willfulness of Soriano’s violation of the law in
broadcasting the Program is established both by the entry of default, see Complaint at ¶ 13
(alleging willfulness) and by common sense. See, e.g., Time Warner Cable of N.Y. City v.
Googies Luncheonette, Inc., 77 F. Supp. 2d 485, 490 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) (“Signals do not
descramble spontaneously, nor do television sets connect themselves to cable distribution
systems.”). The Complaint also alleges, and the default establishes, that it was done “for
purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain.” Accordingly, the
Court awards J&J enhanced damages of three times the statutory damages, or $6,600.
Finally, J&J requests an award of attorney’s fees in the amount of $2,710.50 and costs in
the amount of $425. The Court finds these amounts to be reasonable and appropriately
supported. See Dkt. Nos. 17-8, 24, and 27-8. Accordingly, the request for fees and costs is
The Court will enter judgment consistent with this Entry.
SO ORDERED: 9/29/17
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Copy by United States Mail to:
Soriano’s Mexican Restaurant LLC
d/b/a Soriano’s Mexican Restaurant
c/o Minerva Soriano, Registered Agent
3749 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46241
Minerva Soriano, Registered Agent
Soriano’s Mexican Restaurant LLC
d/b/a Soriano’s Mexican Restaurant
1228 N Gladstone Ave
Indianapolis IN 46201
Copies to all counsel of record via electronic notification
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