United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Broadcast Music, Inc.; Stone Diamond Music Corp.; EMI Consortium Songs, Inc. d/b/a EMI Longitude Music; House of Fun Music, Inc.; Spirit One Music, a division of Spirit Music Group, Inc.; Rondor Music International, Inc. d/b/a Irving Music; Boy Meets Girl Music; and Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., Plaintiffs,
O'Neal Burroughs, LLC d/b/a Whiskey Beach Bar and Grill; and O'Neal Davis, individually, Defendants.
Bryan Harwell Chief United States District Judge
matter is before the Court for consideration of objections to
the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of
United States Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West, who
recommends striking the answer of Defendant O'Neal
Burroughs, LLC (d/b/a Whiskey Beach Bar and Grill) and
entering default against this defendant. See ECF
Nos. 36 & 40.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive
weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review
of those portions of the R & R to which specific
objections are made, and it may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the
Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been
filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only “general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a
specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews
only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the
Court need not give any explanation for adopting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
Plaintiffs filed this copyright infringement action against
two defendants: (1) O'Neal Burroughs, LLC and (2)
O'Neal Davis. Mr. Davis (an individual) filed a pro se
answer on behalf of both himself and the other
defendant-which is a limited liability company. See
ECF No. 10. The Magistrate Judge issued two orders informing
Mr. Davis that he could not represent O'Neal Burroughs,
LLC and providing him over two months to obtain counsel for
this artificial entity. See ECF Nos. 24 & 30.
Because no counsel has appeared, the Magistrate Judge
recommends striking O'Neal Burroughs, LLC's answer
and entering default against this defendant. See R
& R [ECF No. 36]. Mr. Davis has filed objections to the R
& R, and Plaintiffs have filed a reply to his objections.
See ECF Nos. 40 & 41.
It has been the law for the better part of two centuries . .
. that a corporation may appear in the federal courts only
through licensed counsel. As the courts have recognized, the
rationale for that rule applies equally to all artificial
entities. Thus, . . . the lower courts have uniformly held
that 28 U.S.C. § 1654, providing that “parties may
plead and conduct their own cases personally or by counsel,
” does not allow corporations, partnerships, or
associations to appear in federal court otherwise than
through a licensed attorney.
Rowland v. Cal. Men's Colony, Unit II Men's
Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194, 201-02 (1993) (internal
citations omitted). Specifically, limited liability companies
cannot proceed pro se in federal court. In re
Under Seal, 749 F.3d 276, 290 n.17 (4th Cir. 2014);
see also Local Civ. Rule 83.I.07(B) (D.S.C.)
(providing that legal entities “may not proceed without
conducted a de novo review, the Court agrees with the
Magistrate Judge that Mr. Davis cannot represent O'Neal
Burroughs, LLC and that only a licensed attorney can do so.
See, e.g., In re Under Seal, 749
F.3d at 279, 290 n.17 (noting that although an LLC had just a
“sole and managing member, ” the LLC still
“should not have been permitted to proceed pro se at
all”). Accordingly, the Court must strike the answer of
O'Neal Burroughs, LLC because it cannot proceed pro
foregoing reasons, the Court ADOPTS the
Magistrate Judge's R & R [ECF No. 36],
STRIKES the answer of Defendant O'Neal
Burroughs, LLC, and DIRECTS the Clerk to
enter default against this defendant pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(a). IT IS SO ORDERED.