J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Mario, LLC, d/b/a Broadway Night Club et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Julius Mehmeti's motion for summary judgment [# 39 ] is GRANTED. A separate Judgment in accordance with this Memorandum and Order is entered this same date. Signed by District Judge Rodney W. Sippel on 11/6/14. (JWD)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
J&J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC.,
MARIO, LLC, d/b/a The Broadway
Nightclub, et al.,
Case No. 4:13 CV 212 RWS
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff J&J Sports Productions, Inc. owned the nationwide television distribution rights
to “Star Power: Floyd Maywether, Jr. v. Victor Ortiz Championship Fight Program” telecast, an
Ultimate Fighting Championship broadcast which took place on September 17, 2011. J&J Sports
Productions, Inc. sold the right to publically exhibit this broadcast to various public
establishments (eg. hotels, racetracks, casinos, bars, taverns, restaurants, social clubs, etc.) A
number of these establishments illegally intercepted the broadcast and showed it to their patrons
without obtaining a license to do so from J&J Productions, Inc.
The present lawsuit alleges that Defendants Mario, LLC (d/b/a The Broadway Nightclub),
Julius Mehmeti and Krennar Mehmeti illegally intercepted the broadcast and played it to patrons
at the Broadway Nightclub. J&J Sports Productions, Inc. asserts claims Defendants under two
alternative federal statutes and state law conversion. Defendant Julius Mahmeti has moved for
summary judgment. Because J&J Sports Productions, Inc. has failed to produce any evidence to
support its claims against Julius Mehmeti as an individual defendant, I will grant Mehmeti’s
motion for summary judgment.
J&J Sports Productions, Inc.’s first claim is pursuant to the Unauthorized Reception of
Cable Services, 47 U.S.C. § 553. This statute prohibits the unauthorized receipt of programing
from a cable service like Charter Communications. It provides for statutory damages of not less
that $250 but not more than $10,000. Id. at §553(c)(3)(A)(ii). Where the violation was
committed willfully and for the purpose of commercial gain the statutory damages may be
increased in an amount of not more than $50,000. Id. at §553(c)(3)(B). Attorneys fees and costs
may also be recovered under this statute. Id. at § 553(c)(2)(C).
Its second claim is under the Unauthorized Publication or Use of Communications, 47
U.S.C. § 605. In the context of the present lawsuit, this statute prohibits the interception of video
programming from a satellite that is primarily intended for the direct receipt by cable operators to
send out over their cable network. It provides for statutory damages of not less that $1,000 but
not more than $10,000. Id. at § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II). Where the violation was committed willfully
and for the purpose of commercial gain the statutory damages may be increased in an amount of
not more than $100,000. Id. at § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). Attorneys fees and costs may also be
recovered under this statute. Id. at § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii).
The third claim in this lawsuit is a state law conversion claim.
Defendant Mario, LLC is a limited liability company. Paragraph 7 of J&J Sports
Productions, Inc.’s complaint alleges that Julius Mehmeti and Krennar Mehmeti are the “owners,
and/or operator, and/or licensee, and/or permitee, and/or persons in charge, and/or individuals
with dominion, oversight and management of the commercial establishment doing business as
Mario, LLC.” Julius Mehmeti and Krennar Mehmeti have been sued in their individual
Defendants have been served. Mario, LLC has been administratively dissolved, has no
assets, and is no longer in business. On October 10, 2013, the Clerk of Court entered a default
against the Mario, LLC because it failed to file an answer or other responsive pleading.
Julius Mehmeti and Krennar Mehmeti each filed an answer to the complaint. Both
denied J&J Sports Productions, Inc. allegations in paragraph 7 of the complaint regarding
ownership or control of Mario, LLC. or its employees.
Defendant Julius Mehmeti has moved for summary judgment on all of the claims against
him individually. He has filed an affidavit which states that he was a former member of Mario,
LLC. He states that he has no knowledge of how or why the fight was shown at The Broadway
Nightclub on September 17, 2011. He states further that he was not present at The Broadway
Nightclub on September 17, 2011, he was not supervising or managing employees at the club,
nor did he instruct or grant permission to any employee or other person to show the fight.
Mehmeti seeks summary judgment because J&J Sports Productions, Inc has not produced
any evidence that would make him personally liable for the claims made against him in the
Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party, demonstrates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Lynn v. Deaconess Medical Center,
160 F.3d 484, 486 (8th Cir. 1998)(citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). The party seeking summary
judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis of its motion and
identifying those portions of the affidavits, pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file which it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). When such a motion is made and supported
by the movant, the nonmoving party may not rest on his pleadings but must produce sufficient
evidence to support the existence of the essential elements of his case on which he bears the
burden of proof. Id. at 324. In resisting a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the
plaintiff has an affirmative burden to designate specific facts creating a triable controversy.
Crossley v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., 355 F.3d 1112, 1113 (8th Cir. 2004).
Although this case was filed on January 31, 2013, J&J Sports Productions, Inc. did not
request any discovery from the individual defendants beyond their initial Rule 26 disclosures. In
its response to Julius Mehmeti’s motion for summary judgment, J&J Sports Productions, Inc. has
not produced any evidence to supports its allegations of individual liability against Julius
Mehmeti. There is not any evidence in the record that Julius Mehmeti was personally present at
The Broadway Nightclub on September 17, 2011. Nor is there any evidence that he personally
supervised, controlled, gave permission or otherwise permitted the showing of the fight at the
In its opposition to Julius Mehmeti’s motion for summary judgment, J&J Sports
Productions, Inc. asserts that Co-Defendant Krennar Mehmeti stated in his answer that Julius
Mehmeti was the person in charge and control of Mario, LLC. Krennar Mehmeti’s answer does
not contain any such allegation. In addition, J&J Productions, Inc. asserts that in his affidavit in
support of summary judgment, Julius Mehmeti states that he was the person in charge of
employing management at the nightclub. Mehmeti state in his affidavit that he employed
managers to manage the day to day operations and that he was not in charge of the day to day
operations. The evidence in the record supports the allegation that Julius Mehmeti was a
member of Mario, LLC which owned The Broadway Nightclub.
J&J Sports Productions, Inc.’s sole basis for its claims against Julius Mehmeti is that he
was a member of Mario, LLC and that he hired mangers to run day to day operations of the
nightclub. J&J Sports Productions, Inc. has not produced any evidence that Mehmeti personally
participated in the showing of the fight at issue, or that he personally authorized or ratified the
showing of the fight. Such evidence fails to establish that Julius Mehmeti is individually liable
for the claims asserted in the complaint. The Broadway Nightclub was operated by a limited
liability company. Any liability arising from the operations of the nightclub is limited to an
action against Mario, LLC. and does not extend to a corporate officer.
To impose individual liability under the federal statutes at issue in this case, a plaintiff
must show that there exists “no distinction” between the individual's actions and that of his
corporation. Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Sharp, 885 F. Supp.2d 953, 956 (D. Minn.
2012)(rejecting both the “veil piercing” and “benefit and control” tests, citing Comcast of Illinois
X v. Multi–Vision Electronics, Inc., 491 F.3d 938 (8th Cir. 2007)). As in Sharp, J&J Sports
Productions, Inc. “has not satisfied this standard here. At most, it has presented some evidence
that suggests that [Mehmeti] was the sole proprietor and shareholder of [Mario, LLC]. But it has
not created—indeed, it has not even attempted to show, ...—a genuine issue that “no distinction”
exists between [Mehmeti’s] actions and that of his corporation. In Comcast, evidence in the
record showed far more regarding the individual's involvement in the unlawful conduct.” Id.
Nor has J&J Sports Productions, Inc. produced any evidence, or legal argument, that Julius
Mehmeti should be individually liable for conversion.
As a result, I will grant Julius Mehmeti’s motion for summary judgment.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Julius Mehmeti’s motion for summary
judgment [# 39] is GRANTED.
A separate Judgment in accordance with this Memorandum and Order is entered this
RODNEY W. SIPPEL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 6th day of November, 2014.
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