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G&G Closed Circuit Events, LLC v. Don Tequila Bar & Grill L.L.C.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage

January 13, 2020

G&G CLOSED CIRCUIT EVENTS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
DON TEQUILA BAR & GRILL L.L.C. D/B/A DON TEQUILA BAR & GRILL; SANTO DIAZ HIDALGO; JOHN DOES 1-10 AND ABC CORPS. 1-10, Defendants.

          PRESSLER, FELT & WARSHAW, LLP BY: MICHAEL JON PETERS, ESQ. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF

          OPINION [DKT. NO. 7]

          RENÉE MARIE BUMB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff G & G Closed Circuit Events, LLC's Motion for Default Judgment against Defendants Don Tequila Bar & Grill L.L.C. d/b/a Don Tequila Bar & Grill and Santo Diaz Hidalgo. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff is a distributor of sports and entertainment programming that purchased the domestic commercial exhibition rights to broadcast the Gennady Golovkin v. Daniel Jacobs, WBA Super World Middleweight Championship Fight Program nationwide on March 18, 2017. (Compl. ¶ 20; Plf's Br. at 1). Pursuant to its distribution rights, Plaintiff entered into sub-licensing agreements with various commercial establishments who, in turn, were permitted to broadcast the program. (Compl. ¶ 21; Plf's Br. at 1.) The transmission of the program was encrypted and available only to customers who paid Plaintiff's license fees. (Plf's Br. at 2).

         Plaintiff filed its complaint against Defendants on January 3, 2019, alleging that Defendants knowingly and willfully violated 47 U.S.C. §§ 553 and 605. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hidalgo is the license holder for the commercial establishment Don Tequila Bar & Grill L.L.C. d/b/a Don Tequila Bar & Grill, and that Defendant Hidalgo had the right and ability to supervise the activities therein. (Compl. ¶¶ 10-11). Plaintiff further alleges that, under the direction of Defendant Hidalgo, Defendant Don Tequila, without obtaining a license from Plaintiff, unlawfully intercepted and decrypted the program and broadcast it to approximately thirty-five patrons on March 18, 2017. (Compl. ¶¶ 11-24; Osgood Affidavit). Plaintiff seeks judgment under 47 U.S.C. § 605 in the amount of $19, 200.00 and also requests thirty days from the entry of judgment to submit its costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.

         II. Standard for Default Judgment

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 governs the entry of a default judgment. Once default has been entered, and a party has moved for default judgment, the Court, prior to entering default judgment, must: “(1) determine it has jurisdiction both over the subject matter and parties; (2) determine whether defendants have been properly served; (3) analyze the [c]omplaint to determine whether it sufficiently pleads a cause of action; and (4) determine whether the plaintiff has proved damages.” Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Batra, No. 15-5863, 2017 WL 838798, at *2 (D.N.J. March 2, 2017). Additionally, the following three factors determine whether default judgment should be granted: “(1) prejudice to the plaintiff if default is denied; (2) whether the defendant appears to have a litigable defense; and (3) whether defendant's delay is due to culpable conduct.” Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 164 (3d Cir. 2000).

         III. Discussion

         A. Jurisdiction and Service of Process

         The Court must ascertain its jurisdiction both over the subject matter and the parties before entering default judgment against a party that has not filed responsive pleadings. HICA Educ. Loan Corp. v. Surikov, No. 14-1045, 2015 WL 273656, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 22, 2015).

         Here, the Court has federal question subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because Plaintiff asserts claims under 47 U.S.C. §§ 553 and 605, both of which provide private rights of action to an aggrieved party. See 47 U.S.C. §§ 553(c); 605(e). Additionally, the Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants because both were personally served in New Jersey. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e), (h)(1); N.J. Ct. R. 4:4-4(a) (“The primary method of obtaining in personam jurisdiction over a defendant in this State is by causing the summons and complaint to be personally served within this State pursuant to R. 4:4-3.”). Specifically, Defendant Hidalgo was properly served pursuant to N.J. Ct. R. 4:4-4(a)(1) because Ms. Torres was authorized to receive process on Defendant Hidalgo's behalf [see Docket Entry # 5], and Defendant Don Tequila was properly served pursuant to N.J. Ct. R. 4:4-4(a)(6) because Ms. Ortiz was authorized to receive process on its behalf [see Docket Entry # 4].

         B. Sufficiency of Plaintiff's Causes of Action

         To state a claim under 47 U.S.C. § 553 or § 605, a plaintiff must allege that defendants intercepted a broadcast without authorization and then showed the broadcast to others. See J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Edrington, No. 10-3789, 2012 WL 525970, at *2 (D.N.J. Feb. 16, 2012). Further, if a plaintiff demonstrates that “the interception of the broadcast was willful and for commercial ...


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