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J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Collective Minds, LLC

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

December 4, 2017

J & J Sports Productions, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
COLLECTIVE MINDS, LLC, d/b/a Mynt Lounge and Bistro, DRC of SC, INC., d/b/a Mynt Lounge & Bistro, and BENJAMIN WARREN ROGERS, Defendants.[1]

          OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

          CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE Senior United States District Judge

         At the times relevant to this action, Plaintiff, J & J Sports Productions, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) had exclusive, nationwide commercial television distribution rights to “Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Andre Berto WBA/WBC Welterweight Championship Fight Program, (“the Program”). The Program, which included commentary, occurred and was broadcast on September 12, 2015.

         Plaintiff brought this action against Defendants Collective Minds, LLC, d/b/a Mynt Lounge and Bistro, DRC of SC, Inc., d/b/a Mynt Lounge & Bistro, and Benjamin Warren Rogers (collectively “Defendants”) for exhibiting the commercial broadcast of the Program without paying the required licensing fee. Plaintiff's Complaint includes causes of action under 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. Defendants were properly served with the Complaint but failed to file any responsive pleading.

         Pursuant to Plaintiff's request, the Clerk of Court entered default against Defendants on October 24, 2017. ECF Nos. 11, 12. Plaintiff then moved for a default judgment and an award of attorneys' fees and costs under the Communications Act (§ 605) claim, conditionally waiving other claims. ECF No. 13 ¶¶ 5, 6. This motion was served on Defendants. ECF No. 13-8. No response has, however, been filed despite passage of the deadline for doing so. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

         LIABILITY AND ELECTION OF REMEDIES

         Liability has been established by Defendants' default. See ECF Nos. 11, 12. Plaintiff has elected to seek damages under its Communications Act claim, conditional on an award of damages under that claim.

         DAMAGES

         As liability has been established by Defendants' default, and Plaintiff has conditionally waived its other claims, the only issues remaining for resolution are the amounts of damages, attorneys' fees and costs to be awarded for Defendants' violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605.

         Based on Plaintiff's written submissions, to which no opposition has been filed, the court makes the following findings of fact and reaches the following conclusions of law with respect to these issues.

         1. Defendants are in default and have, by virtue of their default, admitted all factual allegations in the Complaint.

         2. Those allegations include (a) Defendants, without authorization, intercepted a broadcast of a fight program to which Plaintiff held the rights, (b) displayed that fight to patrons in a commercial establishment, and (c) did so knowingly and willfully and for commercial gain. Complaint ¶¶ 17, 18.

         3. In addition, Plaintiff alleges and Defendants, by defaulting, admit they bore both vicarious and direct responsibility for the display of the program and are liable for the same. See Complaint ¶¶ 10-12, 19-22.

         4. The rate Defendants would have paid to lawfully display the Program to their patrons was a minimum of $5, 000 (the rate charged for businesses with a seating capacity of 201-250). See ECF No. 13-3 at 9 (rate sheet); ECF No. 13-4 at 2 (affidavit of investigator);.

         5. Defendants advertised the Program on the business's Facebook page and also charged a cover charge for admission on the night the Program was displayed. ECF No. 13-3 ¶¶ 16, 17 (affidavit of Plaintiff's representative); ECF No. 13-3 at ...


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