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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Old Bailey Corporation

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 15, 2018

JOE HAND PROMOTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
OLD BAILEY CORPORATION d/b/a Phebe Night Club, and LUZ SANTANA, Defendants.

          OPINION

          KEVIN MCNULTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is an action to enforce satellite and cable piracy laws against defendants Old Bailey Corporation and Luz Santana. It comes before the court on the unopposed motion of plaintiff, Joe Hand Promotions, Inc., for default judgment. Defendants have not responded to the complaint, and the clerk has entered default. For the reasons stated herein, the motion for default judgment will be granted.

         I. DISCUSSION

         "[T]he entry of a default judgment is left primarily to the discretion of the district court." Hritz v. Woma Corp., 732 F.2d 1178, 1180 (3d Cir. 1984) (citing Tozer v. Charles A. Krause Milling Co., 189 F.2d 242, 244 (3d Cir. 1951)). Because the entry of a default judgment prevents the resolution of claims on the merits, "this court does not favor entry of defaults and default judgments." United States v. $55, 518.05 in U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1984). Thus, before entering default judgment, the court must determine whether the "unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action, since a party in default does not admit mere conclusions of law." DirecTV, Inc. v. Asher, No. 3-cv-1969, 2006 WL 680533, at *1 (D.N.J. Mar. 14, 2006) (citing Wright & Miller, 10A Federal Practice & Procedure § 2688 (3d ed. 1998)).

         "[Defendants are deemed to have admitted the factual allegations of the Complaint by virtue of their default, except those factual allegations related to the amount of damages." Doe v. Simone, No. 12-cv-5825, 2013 WL 3772532, at *2 (D.N.J. July 17, 2013). While "courts must accept the plaintiffs well-pleaded factual allegations as true, " they "need not accept the plaintiffs factual allegations regarding damages as true." Id. (citing Chanel, Inc. v. Gordashevsky, 558 F.Supp.2d 532, 536 (D.N.J. 2008)). Moreover, if a court finds evidentiary support to be lacking, it may order or permit a plaintiff seeking default judgment to provide additional evidence in support of the allegations in the complaint. Doe, 2013 WL 3772532, at *2-3.

         A. Prerequisites for Entry of Default Judgment

         Before a court may enter default judgment against a defendant, the plaintiff must have properly served the summons and complaint, and the defendant must have failed to file an answer or otherwise respond to the complaint within 21-day time period provided by the Federal Rules. See Gold Kist, Inc. v. Laurinburg Oil Co., Inc., 756 F.2d 14, 18-19 (3d Cir. 1985).

         On January 28, 2017, plaintiff left a copy of the summons and complaint with Ana Crivas, a bartender for Phebe Nightclub. (ECF No. 4). On April 26, 2017, plaintiff personally served Luz Santana. (ECF No. 11). That is adequate service.

         Plaintiff sought default against Old Bailey Corporation and the clerk entered default on March 24, 2017. (ECF No. 6). Plaintiff sought default against Luz Santana and the clerk entered default on July 26, 2017. (ECF No. 14). On September 22, 2017, plaintiff moved for default judgment as to both defendants. (ECF No. 16). There has been no response to this motion.

         Accordingly, I am satisfied that the prerequisites to filing a default judgment are met. See Gold Kist, 756 F.2d at 18-19.

         B. Three-Factor Analysis

         After the prerequisites have been satisfied, a court must evaluate the following three factors: "(1) whether the party subject to default has a meritorious defense, (2) the prejudice suffered by the party seeking default, and (3) the culpability of the party subject to default." Doug Brady, Inc. v. N.J. Bldg. Laborers Statewide Funds, 250 F.R.D. 171, 177 (D.N.J. 2008) (citing Emcasco Ins. Co. v. Sambrick, 834 F.2d 71, 74 (3d Cir. 1987)). Those factors, considered in light of the record of this case, weigh in favor of entry of a default judgment.

         The evaluation of the first factor is always complicated by the defendants' failure to answer or to oppose the motion. My independent review of the case, however, does not suggest that the claims are legally flawed or that defendant could mount a meritorious defense. See Doe, 2013 WL 3772532, at *5. Accepting the allegations in the complaint as true, Comdyne I, Inc. v. Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142, 1149 (3d Cir. 1990), I find that the plaintiff has successfully stated a claim for relief against the defendants.

         The complaint alleges that plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. had the exclusive right to license and distribute the broadcast of the Miguel Cotto v. Canelo Alvarez telecast nationwide on November 21, 2015 ("the Program"). The Program broadcast originated via satellite uplink and was subsequently re-transmitted interstate to cable systems and satellite companies via satellite signal. Defendants did not contract with Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. to purchase authorization to exhibit the Program in their establishment. (The minimum charge to broadcast the Program was $2, 200. (ECF No. 16-5)). Nonetheless, defendants intercepted or received the Program and exhibited the Program to patrons in their establishment via four television screens over the bar. An affidavit is attached, stating that an investigator went to the Phebe Night Club on November 22, 2015 and found the establishing playing the Miguel Cotto ...


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