United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JOE HAND PROMOTIONS, INC. as Broadcast Licensee of the November 21, 2015 Cotto/Canelo Program, Plaintiff,
HOWARD SINGLETON a/k/a HOWARD MEDLEY, Individually, and d/b/a MEDLEY'S JAZZ RESTAURANT, a/k/a MEDLEY'S JAZZ BAR, Defendant.
MICHAEL VAZQUEZ, U.S.D. JUDGE
case concerns a bar's improper use of a satellite signal
to broadcast a boxing match. Currently pending before the
Court is the motion of Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc.
("Plaintiff') for default judgment against Defendant
Howard Singleton doing business as Medley's Jazz Bar
("Defendant") under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
55(b). D.E. 9. The Court reviewed all submissions made in
support of the motion, which was unopposed, and considered
the motion without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 78 and Local Civil Rule 78.1 (b). For the
reasons that follow, Plaintiffs motion is
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was authorized by contract to display a boxing match between
Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez ("Program"), on
November 21, 2015, via closed circuit television and
encrypted satellite signal. D.E. 1, "Compl." at
¶ 18. Under this contract, the event would originate via
satellite uplink and be retransmitted to cable systems and
satellite companies through a satellite signal. Id.
Plaintiff subsequently entered into agreements with other
entities to display the Program. Id. at ¶ 19.
Any entity who wished to display the Program was required to
obtain a license from Plaintiff. Affidavit of Joe Hand, Jr.,
D.E. 9-1, hereinafter "PI. Aff." at ¶ 3.
Howard Singleton operates Medley's Jazz Bar (the
"Establishment") located in Linden, New Jersey.
Compl. at ¶ 7. The Establishment has an estimated
capacity of 50-100 patrons. Id. at ¶ 15.
Singleton had supervisory capacity and control over the
Establishment. Id. at ¶ 8. On the day of the
Program, Plaintiff retained auditors to identify locations
which were unlawfully showing the Program. PI. Aff. at ¶
4. The Establishment showed the Program, without Plaintiffs
authorization or license, by descrambling and intercepting
Plaintiffs signal. Compl. at ¶ 21; see also Ex.
C-D to PI. Aff.
was present when the Establishment showed the Program.
Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. Singleton had also
advertised the Program at the Establishment and increased
food and drink prices during the Program. Id. at
¶¶ 13-14. The illegal interception of Plaintiffs
signal could be accomplished in three ways: (1) using an
illegal satellite receiver; (2) misrepresenting its business
as a residence; or (3) taking a legitimate receiver from a
home to the business. Id. Through its trickery, the
Establishment was able to realize increased revenues without
properly compensating Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 29.
filed its Complaint on December 27, 2017. D.E. 1. Defendant
was served personally on March 23, 2018, and proof of service
was then filed with the Court. D.E. 5. On April 16, 2018,
Plaintiff filed its motion for Entry of Default. D.E. 8,
("Stat. Rept."). The default was entered the next
day. Defendant Singleton contacted Plaintiff and indicated
that he would file an answer upon retaining an attorney.
Id. However, Singleton has not appeared or filed an
answer. Id. In this motion for default judgment,
Plaintiff seeks damages for a violation of the Piracy
Statutes of the Federal Communications Act. Specifically,
Plaintiff requests $5, 000 in statutory damages pursuant to
47 U.S.C. § 6O5(e)(3)(C)(i)(II), as well as $10, 000 in
statutory damages pursuant to § 6O5(e)(3)(C)(ii).
Plaintiff also requests $3, 388.50 in attorneys' fees
pursuant to § 6O5(e)(3)(B)(iii). PI. Aff. at
¶¶ 2-A; Compl. at ¶¶ 26-27.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Standard of Review
motion for a default judgment, all factual allegations are
taken as true with the exception of damages. Teamsters
Pension Fund of Phila. & Vicinity v. Am. Helper,
Inc., 2011 WL 4729023, at *2 (D.N.J. Oct. 5, 2011)
(quoting DIRECTV, Inc. v. Pepe, 431 F.3d 162, 165
& n.6 (3d Cir. 2005)). However, the Third Circuit has
emphasized that cases should be decided on the merits
whenever possible. Chanel, Inc. v. Gordashevsky, 558
F.Supp.2d 532, 535 (D.N.J. 2008) (quoting Hritz v. Woma
Corp., 732 F.2d 1178, 1181 (3d Cir. 1984)). Therefore,
there are prerequisites which must be met before a default
judgment is entered. A court must be satisfied that it has
jurisdiction over both the subject matter and the parties;
that the defendant was properly served; that the complaint
states a sufficient cause of action; and that plaintiff has
proven damages. Moroccanoil, Inc. v. JMG Freight Grp.
LLC, 2015 WL 6673839, at *1 (D.N.J. Oct. 30, 2015). Upon
meeting these prerequisites, the court will consider (1)
prejudice to the plaintiff if the default judgment is not
granted; (2) whether defendant has a viable defense; and (3)
whether defendant is culpable for his or her delay.
Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 164 (3d Cir.
2000); see also Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Starlight
Ballroom Dance Club, Inc., 175 Fed.Appx. 519, 522 (3d
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
entering a default judgment, the court must determine that it
has subject matter jurisdiction. HICA Educ. Loan Corp. v.
Surikov, 2015 WL 273656, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 22, 2015)
(quoting Ramada Worldwide, Inc. v. Benton Harbor Hari
Ohm, L.L.C., 2008 WL 2967067, at *9 (D.N.J. July 31,
2008)). Here, the Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331, which states that the district courts
have original jurisdiction over all cases arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.
Plaintiff has invoked the laws of the United States by