United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
J&J Sports Productions, Inc., as Broadcast Licensee of the September 14, 2013 “The One” Floyd Mayweather Championship Fight Program Plaintiff,
Tiffany M. McLaughlin, a/k/a Tiffany Michelle Mclaughlin, individually, and d/b/a VIP Sports Lounge a/k/a VIP Lounge a/k/a VIP Sports Bar & Lounge a/k/a World Famous Five Star Entertainment, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
H. WILLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the court is a motion for summary judgment filed by
plaintiff J&J Sports Productions, Inc.
(“J&J”) against defendant Tiffany M.
McLaughlin a/k/a Tiffany Michelle McLaughlin, individually,
and d/b/a VIP Sports Lounge a/k/a VIP Lounge a/k/a VIP Sports
Bar & Lounge a/k/a World Famous Five Star Entertainment
(“McLaughlin”). Dkt. 11. McLaughlin did not
respond to J&J's motion. Therefore, the court treats
it as unopposed. S.D. Tex. L.R. 7.4. After considering the
original complaint, motion, evidentiary record, and
applicable law, the court is of the opinion that
J&J's motion for summary judgment should be GRANTED
IN PART & DENIED AS MOOT IN PART.
September 4, 2013, J&J bought the exclusive license to
exhibit and sublicense the closed-circuit telecast of the
September 14, 2013 “The One” Floyd Mayweather,
Jr. V. Saul Alvarez, WBC Middleweight Championship Fight
Program and accompanying undercard matches (the
“Event”). Dkt. 11-1, Ex. A-1 at 1. J&J only
authorized the closed-circuit broadcast of the Event to be
exhibited in a commercial establishment if the establishment
had a valid license agreement with J&J and paid the
required licensing fee. Dkt. 11-1, Ex. A at 2, 3.
owned and operated VIP Sports Bar & Lounge on the date of
the Event. Dkt. 11-1, Ex. C at Response nos. 38-40 (deemed
admissions by McLaughlin). VIP Sports Bar & Lounge is a
commercial establishment and did not have a valid license
agreement with J&J to exhibit the Event and did not pay
J&J the required licensing fee. Dkt. 11-1, Ex. A-2
(affidavit of Nia Zambrano), Ex. C at Response nos. 13-14. On
September 14, 2013, VIP Sports Bar & Lounge exhibited the
Event. Dkt.11-1, at Ex. A-2, Ex. C at Response no. 12.
filed suit against McLaughlin on August 10, 2016, alleging
that McLaughlin violated the Federal Communications Act of
1934, 47 U.S.C. §§ 553 or 605
(“FCA”), by unlawfully intercepting the
interstate communication of the Event and exhibiting the
Event to patrons at VIP Sports Bar & Lounge without
paying the required sublicense fee. Dkt. 1. On October 7,
2017, McLaughlin was properly served with process. Dkt 6.
McLaughlin's deadline to answer or otherwise respond was
October 28, 2017. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a). On
October 24, 2017, McLaughlin, pro se, filed an
original answer to J&J's complaint denying every
allegation. Dkt 5.
retained counsel on January 5, 2017, and filed an amended
answer on February 5, 2017, that denied all facts and claims
stated in J&J's complaint except party
identifications and jurisdictional allegations. Dkts. 8, 10.
February 2, 2017, J&J served McLaughlin with requests for
admissions, to which McLaughlin did not respond. Dkt. 11-1,
Ex. C, D. J&J now requests that the court grant summary
judgment in its favor on its claim under §§ 553 or
605 of the FCA. As a result of the alleged violations,
J&J seeks statutory damages, additional damages,
attorneys' fees pursuant to §§ 553 and 605, and
post judgment interest. Id.
shall grant summary judgment when a “movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). “[A] fact is genuinely in dispute
only if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party.” Fordoche, Inc. v. Texaco,
Inc., 463 F.3d 388, 392 (5th Cir. 2006). The moving
party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986). If
the party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the
non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing a
genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). The court must
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-movant and draw all justifiable inferences in favor of
the non-movant. Envtl. Conservation Org. v. City of
Dall., Tex., 529 F.3d 519, 524 (5th Cir. 2008).
Liability Under § 605
has a private right of action to obtain statutory damages
under § 605 because it had proprietary rights in
exhibiting the Event. See § 605(d)(6),
(e)(3)(C)(ii). Section 605 is a strict liability statute and
only applies to unauthorized interceptions of signals through
radio or satellite. Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. 152
Bronx, L.P., 11 F.Supp.3d 747, 753 (S.D. Tex. March 26,
2014); see J&J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Mandell Family
Ventures, L.L.C., 751 F.3d 346, 351 (5th Cir. 2014). To
establish liability under § 605, J&J must show that
(1) the Event was exhibited in VIP Sports Bar & Lounge
and (2) that J&J did not authorize the particular
exhibition of the Event. J&J Sports Prods., Inc. v.
Little Napoli, Inc., No. H-13-1237, 2014 WL 3667903, at
*3 (S.D. Tex. July 22, 2014); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc.,
v. Lee, No. H-11-2904, 2012 WL 1909348, at *3 (S.D. Tex.
May 24, 2012).
date, McLaughlin has not served J&J with any responses to
J&J's requests for admissions. Thus, the admissions
will be deemed admitted as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P.
36(a)(3); see also Hulsey v. Texas, 929 F.2d 168,
171 (5th Cir. 2008) (“[A] matter in a request for
admissions is admitted unless the party to whom the request
is directed answers or objects to the matter within 30
days.”). So, McLaughlin does not dispute that she
intercepted and exhibited the Event in VIP Sports Bar &
Lounge on September 14, 2013. Dkt. 11-1, Ex. A-2, Ex. C at
Response nos. 11-12, 37. McLaughlin also does not dispute
that she was unauthorized to exhibit the Event. Id.
at Ex. C at Response nos. ...