United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
R. Grand United States Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
DEFAULT JUDGMENT AND AWARDING DAMAGES
D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action, Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc. alleges
that Defendants B O B Lounge, LLC (“B O B
Lounge”) and Sharon O'Neal violated
federal law by illegally broadcasting a boxing match on May
2, 2015. Defendants have failed to defend or otherwise appear
in this action. Plaintiff now moves for default judgment
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2) and
seeks statutory damages in addition to attorney's fees
and costs against the Defendants jointly and severally.
hearing on this matter was held on December 6, 2017. For the
reasons stated on the record and those set forth below, the
Court will grant Plaintiffs motion for default judgment and
award damages, fees, and costs in the amount of $7, 689.75.
filed its Complaint on March 10, 2017, and then filed an
Amended Complaint three days later in order to correct a
filing error. (ECF No. 1, Compl.; ECF No. 2, Am. Compl.) The
lawsuit was brought against B O B Lounge (d/b/a B.O.B.'z
Lounge), a commercial establishment in Detroit, Michigan, as
well as Sharon O'Neal, whom Plaintiff alleges on
information and belief to be the owner, operator, or in some
other fashion the person in charge of or possessing control
over B O B Lounge. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8-11.)
2015 Opinion and Order issued in a very similar case filed by
the same Plaintiff, this Court described Plaintiff's
business model as follows:
Plaintiff, in an attempt to combat piracy of its programs,
hires investigative agencies who retain auditors who visit
various commercial locations that have no record of paying
the required fee. For a “commercial fee”, a
commercial establishment can receive an unscrambled signal
enabling the business to view the program either through
Plaintiff or an authorized distributor. The fee is determined
by the number a “Rate Card” that ties the fee to
the seating capacity of the business.
J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Matti, No.
14-12981, 2015 WL 900478, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 3, 2015)
case, Plaintiff alleges that it paid for and was
contractually granted the exclusive nationwide television
distribution rights to the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Manny
Pacquiao Championship Fight (also known as "The Fight of
the Century" but referred to herein as the
“Program”), including all
under-card bouts and fight commentary in the television
broadcast of the event. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11, 13.)
Plaintiff claims that Defendants illegally broadcast the
program on May 2, 2015 in violation of the Communications Act
of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 605, et seq.,
and the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition
Act of 1992, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 553, et
seq. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11-26; see also
ECF No. 10, Pl.'s Mot. Ex. 5, Affidavit of Andre
Wallace.) Plaintiff also alleges that the broadcast
constituted conversion under Michigan common law. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 27-30.) Andre Wallace, an investigator hired by
Plaintiff, avers in a signed affidavit dated September 23,
2015 that there were approximately 85 patrons in the
establishment on the date of the broadcast. (Wallace Aff.
Motion for Default Judgment, Plaintiff asserts that it served
both Defendants with the Summons and Amended Complaint at the
same address on April 5, 2017. (Pl.'s Mot. at 2, Pg ID
31; Ex. 2, Return of Service.) After Defendants failed to
answer the Amended Complaint or otherwise plead or defend in
the action, Plaintiff filed a Request for a Clerk's Entry
of Default on June 6, 2017, and it was granted the same day.
(ECF Nos. 8, 9.)
hearing on Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment, as
well as an analogous motion for default judgment in a
separate action involving the same parties and similar facts,
see J & J Sports Productions v. B O B LOUNGE, LLC, et
al., No. 17-11350, was scheduled to be held on October
26, 2017. The hearing was postponed after Plaintiff's
counsel represented that the parties were likely to settle
the matter out of court, but Plaintiffs counsel informed the
Court several weeks later that attempts to finalize the
settlement had been unsuccessful. The Court held a
rescheduled hearing on the two motions for default judgment
on December 6, 2017. Defendants did not attend the hearing.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b), a judgment by
default may be entered against a defendant who has failed to
plead or otherwise defend against an action. In order to
obtain judgment by default, the proponent must first request
the clerk's entry of default pursuant to Rule 55(a).
See Hanner v. City of Dearborn Heights, No.
07-15251, 2008 WL 2744860, at *1 (E.D. Mich. July 14, 2008).
Once a default has been entered by the clerk's office,
all of a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations, except those
relating to damages, are deemed admitted. Antoine v.
Atlas Turner, Inc., 66 F.3d 105, 110 (6th Cir. 1995);
see also Ford Motor Co. v. Cross, 441 F.Supp.2d 837,
846 (E.D. Mich. 2006) (citation omitted).
default is obtained, the party may then file for a default
judgment by the clerk or by the court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). If
the plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are sufficient to
support a finding of liability as to the defendant on the
asserted claims, then the Court should enter a judgment in
favor of the plaintiff. See Cross, 441 F.Supp.2d at
848. Although Rule 55(b)(2) does not provide a standard to
determine when a party is entitled to a judgment by default,
the case law establishes that the court must exercise
“sound judicial discretion” when determining
whether to enter the judgment. Wright & Miller, 10A
Federal Practice & Procedure, § 2685 (3d ed. 1998)
(collecting cases). After a court determines that a default
judgment should be entered, it will determine the amount and
character of the recovery awarded. See Id. §
2688 (collecting cases).