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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Manzo

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 28, 2016

Joe Hand Promotions, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Juan Valencia Manzo, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION [RE: MOTION AT DOCKET 19]

          JOHN W. SEDWICK SENIOR JUDGE.

         I. MOTION PRESENTED

         At docket 17 the court entered a final default judgment in favor of plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (“Plaintiff”). At docket 19 defendants Juan Valencia Manzo (“Manzo”), Luz Valencia (“Valencia”), and Manzo Restaurants at Central, LLC (collectively, “Defendants”) move pursuant to Rules 55(c) and 60(b) for an order setting aside the judgment. Plaintiff opposes at docket 22. Defendants reply at docket 25. At docket 30 the court granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a surreply, which Plaintiff filed at docket 31.

         Oral argument was not requested and would not assist the court.

         II. BACKGROUND

         “Ultimate Fighting Championship 157: Ronda Rousey v. Liz Carmouche” is a televised fighting program (“the Program”) that aired in February 2013. Plaintiff sued Defendants for showing the Program at their restaurant without authorization, in violation of Plaintiff's rights as the Program's exclusive commercial domestic distributor.

         On May 7, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a request for entry of default against all Defendants.[1] This request was supported by proofs of service from James Menona (“Menona”), a process server who declared under penalty of perjury that on April 9, 2015, at around 12:20 pm he served a copy of the summons and complaint on all three defendants at Valencia Produce, a separate business that Manzo runs.[2] Menona's declarations of service are somewhat vague as to the manner of service. Menona states that he served all three defendants “by delivering [copies of the documents] to and leaving [them] with” Manzo and Valencia personally.[3] As for the manner of service, Menona merely states: “in compliance with the Federal Code [sic] of Civil Procedure.”

         After a clerk's entry of default was issued, [4] Plaintiff moved the court to enter a default judgment in its favor in the amount of $23, 000.[5] The court granted Plaintiff's motion on June 11, 2015.[6] Exactly one year later, on June 11, 2016, Defendants filed the present motion to set aside the default judgment.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 55(c) states that a district court may set aside a final default judgment under the “demanding standards set by Rule 60(b).”[7] Rule 60(b), in turn, states that the court may relieve a party from a final judgment for six enumerated reasons. Although determining whether to set aside a default judgment is largely committed to the discretion of the district courts, [8] that discretion is constrained by the provisions of Rule 60(b).[9]

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Rule 60(b)(4)

         Rule 60(b)(4) provides that the court may relieve a party from a final judgment if the judgment is void. Defendants contend that the default judgment entered against them is void because they were not properly served with process. Where service of process is not completed properly, the resulting judgment is void because the court never acquired personal jurisdiction over the bound party.[10]

         When determining whether service was proper, “[a] signed return of service constitutes prima facie evidence of valid service which can be overcome only by strong and convincing evidence.”[11] Here, Plaintiff made a prima facie showing that service of process was valid by submitting Menona's declaration, in which he swears that he personally served Manzo and Valencia with the summons and complaint at Valencia Produce on April 9, 2015. Defendants rebut Menona's ...


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