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J & J Sports Productions Inc. v. Arvizu

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 15, 2018

J & J Sports Productions, Inc., Plaintiff,
Francisca Angelica Gonzalez Arvizu, individually and d/b/a/ Taco Mich; and Taco Mich. & Bar #4, LLC, an unknown business entity d/b/a Taco Mich. Defendants.


          David G. Campbell United States District Judge

         Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions has filed a motion for default judgment against Defendants Francisca Angelica Gonzalez Arvizu and Taco Mich. & Bar #4, LLC, doing business as “Taco Mich.” Doc. 16. No response has been filed. For reasons stated below, default judgment is appropriate.

         I. Background.

         Plaintiff obtains licenses to distribute pay-per-view programming to various commercial establishments, including bars and restaurants. Plaintiff contracted for the right to broadcast a boxing match between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Liam Smith and related undercard bouts. The program aired September 17, 2016.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants intercepted the program and displayed it to patrons at Taco Mich, a Mexican restaurant and bar operated by Defendants. See Doc. 16-3 at 5-8. Plaintiff filed suit seeking statutory damages for Defendants' alleged violations of the Communications Act of 1934 and the Cable and Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, 47 U.S.C. §§ 553 and 605 et seq. Doc. 1.

         Plaintiff served process on Defendants on November 14, 2017. Docs. 8, 9. The Clerk entered Defendants' default three weeks later after they failed to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint. Doc. 13. Plaintiff then filed the present motion for default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. 16.

         II. Default Judgment.

         After default is entered by the clerk, the district court may enter default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b). The court's “decision whether to enter a default judgment is a discretionary one.” Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). Although the court should consider and weigh relevant factors as part of the decision-making process, it “is not required to make detailed findings of fact.” Fair Hous. of Marin v. Combs, 285 F.3d 899, 906 (9th Cir. 2002).

         The following factors may be considered in deciding whether default judgment is appropriate: (1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff, (2) the merits of the claims, (3) the sufficiency of the complaint, (4) the amount of money at stake, (5) the possibility of factual disputes, (6) whether default is due to excusable neglect, and (7) the policy favoring decisions on the merits. See Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986). In considering the merits and sufficiency of the complaint, the court accepts as true the complaint's well-pled factual allegations, but the plaintiff must establish all damages sought in the complaint. See Geddes v. United Fin. Grp., 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977). Having reviewed the complaint and default judgment motion, the Court finds that the Eitel factors favor default judgment and an award of damages in the amount of $30, 000.00 is warranted.

         A. Possible Prejudice to Plaintiff.

         The first Eitel factor weighs in favor of default judgment. Defendants failed to respond to the complaint or otherwise appear in this action despite being served with the complaint, the application for default, and the motion for default judgment. If Plaintiff's motion is not granted, Plaintiff “will likely be without other recourse for recovery.” PepsiCo, Inc. v. Cal. Sec. Cans, 238 F.Supp.2d 1172, 1177 (C.D. Cal. 2002). The prejudice to Plaintiff in this regard supports the entry of default judgment.

         B. Merits of the Claims and Sufficiency of the Complaint.

         The second and third Eitel factors favor default judgment where, as in this case, the complaint sufficiently states a plausible claim for relief under the Rule 8 pleading standards. See Id. at 1175; Danning v. Lavine, 572 F.2d 1386, 1388-89 (9th Cir. 1978). Plaintiff seeks relief under 47 U.S.C. § 605. To establish a violation of this statute, “a defendant must be shown to have (1) intercepted or aided the interception of, and (2) divulged or published, or aided the divulging or publishing of, a communication transmitted by the plaintiff.” Nat'l Subscription Television v. S & H TV, 644 F.2d 820, 826 (9th Cir. 1981). Section 605 applies to satellite television signals. DirecTV, Inc. v. Webb, 545 F.3d 837, 844 (9th Cir. 2008).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants willfully intercepted and displayed the licensed program to the public on September 17, 2016. Docs. 1 ¶¶ 9-14, 16 ¶ 4. These allegations are supported by the sworn affidavit of investigator Amanda Hidalgo, who visited Taco Mich. on the night in question and saw the program being displayed on a ...

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