United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff J&J Sports Productions, Inc.'s
Motion for Final Default Judgment. Doc. 13. For the reasons
that follow, the Court concludes that Plaintiff's motion
is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
a case about alleged violations of the Federal Communications
Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 553 and 605
(FCA). Plaintiff J&J Sports Productions, Inc. (J&J)
is in the business of marketing and licensing commercial
exhibitions of pay-per-view closed-circuit prizefight events.
Doc. 13-1, Pl.'s Ex. A, Affidavit of Thomas P. Riley
(Riley Aff.) ¶ 4. As part of this business, J&J
acquired the proprietary rights to exhibit and sub-license
the closed-circuit telecast of “The One”: Floyd
Mayweather, Jr. v. Saul Alvarez, WBC Middleweight
Championship Fight Program, including undercard and
preliminary bouts (the Event). Id. ¶ 4; Doc. 1,
Compl. ¶ 7. It then marketed and distributed exhibition
rights to the Event to commercial locations throughout Texas
in exchange for a fee. Id. ¶ 9. To prevent
unlicensed establishments from exhibiting the Event without a
license, the transmission was electronically coded or
“scrambled.” Id. ¶ 10.
Establishments that had purchased the broadcast rights were
provided with electronic decoding equipment to unscramble the
signal. Id. ¶ 12. Defendants did not obtain a
license, but nevertheless intercepted and broadcast the
transmission of the Event to the patrons of their
establishment, Medusa, on September 14, 2013, according to
J&J. Id. ¶ 13.
20, 2016, J&J filed this case against Defendants,
alleging they had willfully violated the FCA for commercial
gain. Id. ¶ 14. It asks for statutory and
additional damages under the FCA; a permanent injunction
preventing Defendants from intercepting or exhibiting future
J&J programs without a license; court costs;
attorney's fees; and pre- and post-judgment interest.
Id. at 5-6.
served all Defendants with its Complaint by October 31, 2016.
Doc. 6, Summons Returned Executed as to Jack Michael
Stadtman; Doc. 9, Summons Returned Executed as to Alfredo
Hinojosa; Doc. 10, Summons Returned Executed as to Old Town
Ranchers, Inc. Nothing in the record indicates that
Defendants ever responded. Accordingly, J&J requested
that the court clerk make an entry of default on January 18,
2017. Doc. 12, Req. for Entry of Default. That same day,
J&J moved the Court for a default judgment. Doc. 13, Mot.
For Final Default J. (Pl.'s Motion). The clerk issued an
entry of default the next day. Doc. 14, Clerk's Entry of
Default. Now the Court considers J&J's Motion for
Default Judgment. To date, Defendants have not made an
appearance in this case.
a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is
sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend . . . the
clerk must enter the party's default.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(a). Once default has been entered, the Court may enter a
default judgment against the defaulting defendant upon motion
of the plaintiff. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). Through the entry of
default judgment, the “conduct on which liability is
based may be taken as true as a consequence of the
default.” Frame v. S-H, Inc., 967 F.2d 194,
205 (5th Cir. 1992) (citations omitted). In considering a
motion for default judgment, the court accepts as true the
well-pleaded allegations of facts in the complaint.
Nishimatsu Constr. Co., Ltd. v. Hous. Nat'l
Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975). When
“all elements of [a] cause of action are present by
implication, ” a complaint is
“well-pleaded” for default judgment purposes.
Wooten v. McDonald Transit Assocs., Inc., 788 F.3d
490, 499 (5th Cir. 2015).
determining whether a default judgment should be entered
against a defendant, courts have developed a two-part
analysis. See, e.g., Ins. Co. of the W. v. H
& G Contractors, Inc., No. C-10-390, 2011 WL
4738197, at *2, 3 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 5, 2011). First, the court
must consider whether entry of default judgment is
appropriate under the circumstances. Lindsey v. Prive
Corp., 161 F.3d 886, 893 (5th Cir. 1998). The factors
relevant to this inquiry include: (1) whether material issues
of fact exist; (2) whether there has been substantial
prejudice; (3) whether the grounds for default are clearly
established; (4) whether the default was caused by a good
faith mistake or excusable neglect; (5) the harshness of a
default judgment; and (6) whether the court would think
itself obliged to set aside the default on the
defendant's motion. Id. Second, the court must
assess the merits of the plaintiff's claims and find
sufficient basis in the pleadings for the judgment.
Nishimatsu Constr., 515 F.2d at 1206. Although the
defendant may be in default, “[t]he defendant is not
held to admit facts that are not well-pleaded or to admit
conclusions of law.” Id.
this two-part analysis, the Court ultimately concludes that a
default judgment here (1) is procedurally warranted and (2)
is supported by a sufficient factual basis in J&J's
Complaint. The valuation of damages, however, requires a
hearing as the Court is unable to determine the amount of
damages with mathematical calculation by referencing
information in the pleadings and supporting documents.
See James v. Frame, 6 F.3d 307, 310 (5th Cir. 1993).
As discussed below, the Court finds that J&J is entitled
to a default judgment against Defendant for their alleged FCA
violations, but it must supplement the record with additional
evidence before damages are awarded.
Whether An Entry of Default Judgment is Procedurally
applying the six Lindsey factors to J&J's
Motion, the Court determines that default judgment is
procedurally warranted. First, Defendants have not filed any
responsive pleadings so there exists no material issues of
fact. Lindsey, 161 F.3d at 893; Nishimatsu
Constr., 515 F.2d at 1206 (noting that
“[t]he defendant, by his default, admits the
plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact”).
Second, Defendants' “failure to respond threatens
to bring the adversary process to a halt, effectively
prejudicing Plaintiff's interests.” Ins. Co. of
the W., 2011 WL 4738197, at *3 (citing Lindsey,
161 F.3d at 893). Third, given that Defendants have had
sufficient time to either file an answer to J&J's
Complaint, or else explain why they have not done so, the
grounds for default are clearly established. Cf. Elite v.
KNR Group, 216 F.3d 1080, 2000 WL 729378, at *1 (5th
Cir. May 19, 2000) (per curiam) (unpublished table decision)
(holding default judgment to be inappropriate where defendant
sent letter to court explaining his failure to appear was due
to financial privation). Fourth, there is no evidence before
the Court to suggest Defendants' silence is the result of
a “good faith mistake or excusable neglect.”
Lindsey, 161 F.3d at 893. Fifth, J&J seeks only
the relief the law provides it, and Defendants have no
applicable defense for their claims, at least as far as the
Court can see, which “mitigat[es] ...