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J&J Sports Productions Inc v. El-Corona

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

March 16, 2016

J&J Sports Productions, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
El-Corona, a South Carolina nonprofit corporation, d/b/a El Tropicana, and Elsie Acosta, a/k/a Elsie Acosta Sanchez, Defendants.

ORDER FOR JUDGMENT BY DEFAULT

Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge

Plaintiff, J&J Sports Productions, Inc. ("Plaintiff"), which had exclusive, nationwide commercial television distribution rights to "Manny Pacquio v. Juan Manuel Marquez, IV Welterweight Program” ("the Program"), sued El-Corona, a South Carolina nonprofit corporation, d/b/a El Tropicana, and Elsie Acosta, a/k/a Elsie Acosta Sanchez ("Defendants") for exhibiting the December 8, 2012, commercial broadcast of the Program, which included under-card bouts and commentary, at 1745 Decker Boulevard, Columbia, South Carolina 29206, without paying the required licensing fee to Plaintiff. Plaintiff's Complaint included causes of action brought pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605 ("Communications Act") and 47 U.S.C. § 553 ("Cable & Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act"), as well as a state law claim for conversion. Although Defendants were properly served with the Complaint, they have not answered or filed any responsive pleading. Pursuant to Plaintiff's request, the Clerk of Court entered a default against Defendants, and Plaintiff then moved for a default judgment and award of attorneys' fees and other costs.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants on December 7, 2015. This action seeks an award of statutory damages, enhanced damages, attorneys' fees and costs, as well as compensatory and punitive damages based on the unlicensed broadcast of the Program.

A. Jurisdiction and Venue

The court has subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367. The court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants, and venue in this District is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because Defendants are South Carolina residents or are, or were, doing business in this District, and because the alleged wrongful acts occurred in this District.

B. Process and Service

On December 12, 2015, Plaintiff’s private process server served Elsie Acosta a/k/a Elsie Acosta Sanchez, by way of her room-mate Sylvia Acosta. On January 6, 2016, Plaintiff's private process server served El-Corona, a South Carolina nonprofit corporation, d/b/a El Tropicana, c/o Elsie Acosta, Registered Agent.

C. Grounds for Entry of Default

Defendants did not timely file an answer or other pleading, as reflected by Affidavit of Default and Affidavit of Plaintiff's Counsel in Support of Request for Entry of Default, with regard to Defendants, El-Corona, a South Carolina nonprofit corporation, d/b/a El Tropicana, and Elsie Acosta a/k/a Elsie Acosta Sanchez. The Clerk of Court properly entered default as to Defendants, El-Corona, a South Carolina nonprofit corporation, d/b/a El Tropicana, and Elsie Acosta a/k/a Elsie Acosta Sanchez, on February 1, 2016.

D. Motion for Default Judgment

On February 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Motion and Motion for Default Judgment, a copy of which it also served upon Defendants by mail on said date.

II. Findings of Fact

Having reviewed Plaintiff's Complaint, Answers to Local Rule 26.01 Interrogatories, Request for Entry of Default, Motion for Default Judgment, as well as all supporting and supplemental information provided, the court accepts Plaintiff's well-pled factual allegations as true and makes the following factual findings. See DIRECTV, Inc. v. Rawlins, 523 F.3d 318, 322 n.1 (4th Cir. 2009) (accepting plaintiff's allegations against defaulting defendant as true, noting a defaulting defendant "admits the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact, is concluded on those facts by the judgment, and is barred from contesting on appeal the facts thus established.") (quoting Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001)).

Relevant to this litigation, Plaintiff paid for, and was granted, the exclusive nationwide commercial television distribution rights to the Program. Plaintiff contracted with and granted certain businesses the rights to exhibit publicly the Program to its customers within their commercial establishments. Plaintiff expended substantial money in marketing, advertising, administering and transmitting the Program to such businesses.

As alleged by Plaintiff in its Complaint, Elsie Acosta a/k/a Elsie Acosta Sanchez was present during the broadcast and committed, directly or indirectly, the misconduct, had dominion, control, oversight and management authority over the establishment known as El Tropicana, and had an obvious and direct financial interest in the misconduct.

III. Analysis

Having found the facts set forth in Plaintiff's Complaint as deemed admitted by default, the court must ensure the Complaint sets forth a proper claim before entering default judgment. See GlobalSanta Fe Corp. v. Globalsantafe.com, 250 F.Supp.2d 610, 612 n.3 (E.D. Va. 2003) (considering facts and evaluating Plaintiff's claims prior to entry of default judgment in copyright action). The court considers whether ...


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