United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
G&G CLOSED CIRCUIT EVENTS, LLC as Broadcast Licensee of the May 17, 2014 Bellator 120 Fight Program, Plaintiff,
MICKEY'S SPORTS BAR AND GRILL LLC, individually and d/b/a MICKEY'S SPORTS BAR AND GRILL; and RICARDO MORRIS, individually and d/b/a MICKEY'S SPORTS BAR AND GRILL, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA M. G. LYNN CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment (ECF
No. 11). For the reasons stated below, the Motion is
an anti-piracy case brought under the Federal Communications
Act of 1934 (“FCA”), as amended. 47 U.S.C.
§§ 533, 605. Plaintiff is in the business of
marketing and licensing commercial exhibitions of
pay-per-view closed-circuit prizefight events. (App. at 6.).
Plaintiff purchased exclusive distribution and licensing
rights to the Bellator 120: Rampage v. King Mo Fight
Program that was broadcast on May 17, 2014 (the
“Event”). (Id. at 13.). Through this
agreement, Plaintiff had the exclusive right to sell the
commercial distribution rights to the Event to commercial
establishments, including bars, clubs, arenas, restaurants
and the like, throughout Texas. (Orig. Compl. at ¶ 3;
Mot. at ¶ 6.). Plaintiff claims that Defendants used an
unauthorized decoder to illegally obtain access to the Event.
(Mot. at ¶ 5.). Plaintiff hired Ana Saldana, an
investigator, to visit Mickey's Sports Bar and Grill
(“Mickey's”) on May 17, 2014, where she
witnessed Defendants broadcast the Event on thirteen
televisions in view of at least 37 customers. (Id.
at ¶ 7; App. at 16-17.).
16, 2017, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against Mickey's
and its owner, Ricardo Morris (“Morris”)
(collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff asserts
that Defendants violated the FCA and seeks statutory damages
in the amount of $10, 000, additional damages in the amount
of $50, 000, and attorney's fees of one third or $1, 000
based on an hourly rate of $250 per hour. (Pl. Orig. Compl.
at p. 5; Mot. at 10.). Defendant Morris was served on June
20, 2017, and Mickey's was served on July 31, 2017.
Neither Defendant filed an answer or otherwise responded to
the Complaint. On December 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed its
Motion for Default Judgment (ECF No. 11), and the Clerk of
the Court entered an Entry of Default (ECF No. 12), on the
Rule 55, courts may enter a default judgment against a
defendant who has failed to plead or otherwise defend.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), (b). “Default judgment is proper
only if the well-pleaded factual allegations in the 
Complaint establish a valid cause of action.”
United States v. 1998 Freightliner Vin #:
1FUYCZYB3WP886986, 548 F.Supp.2d 381 (W.D. Tex. 2008);
Nishimatsu Const. Co., Ltd. v. Houston Nat'l
Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975) (“There
must be a sufficient basis in the pleadings for the
judgment.”). A defendant, “by his default, admits
the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact.”
Nishimatsu Const. Co., 515 F.2d at 1206.
Fifth Circuit employs the factors in Lindsey v. Prive
Corp., 161 F.3d 886, 893 (5th Cir. 1998), when
considering a motion for default judgment. Those factors are:
(1) whether material issues of fact are at issue; (2) whether
there has been substantial prejudice; (3) whether grounds for
default are clearly established; (4) whether default was
caused by good faith mistake or excusable neglect; (5)
harshness of default judgment; and (6) whether the court
would feel obligated to set aside a default on the
defendant's motion. Id.
unauthorized reception or interception of either cable or
satellite transmissions violates either 47 U.S.C. § 553
or § 605. Section 605(a) prohibits the unauthorized
receipt and use of radio communications for one's
“own benefit or for the benefit of another not entitled
thereto.” 47 U.S.C. § 605(a). Section 553
prohibits the unauthorized interception or reception or the
assistance in intercepting or receiving any communications
service offered over a cable system. 47 U.S.C. §
553(a)(1). Here, the Defendants' illegal interception and
subsequent broadcast of the Event violates both §§
553 and 605.
the six factors set out in Lindsey, the Court finds
they weigh in favor of granting a default judgment. First,
Defendants did not file an answer or otherwise respond to
Plaintiff's Complaint. As a result, there are no material
facts in dispute. Lindsey, 161 F.3d at 893. Second,
Defendants' “failure to respond to Plaintiff's
Complaint threatens to bring the adversary process to a halt,
effectively prejudicing Plaintiff's interests in pursuing
its rights afforded by law.” John Perez Graphics
& Design, LLC v. Green Tree Inv. Grp., Inc., No.
3:12-CV-4194-M, 2013 WL 1828671, at *3 (N.D. Tex. May 1,
2013) (Lynn, J.). Third, the grounds for default have been
clearly established. Defendants were served over five months
ago and have not responded to Plaintiff's Complaint nor
sought relief or provided an explanation for their delay.
Fourth, there is no evidence before the Court to indicate the
Defendants' silence is the result of a good faith mistake
or excusable neglect. Fifth, Plaintiff seeks only the relief
to which it is entitled under the law, and Defendants'
failure to respond during the last five months
“mitigate[es] the harshness of a default judgment
against them.” Id. Finally, the Court is not
aware of any facts that would give rise to “good
cause” to set aside the default if challenged by
Defendants. Id. Therefore, the Court concludes that
default judgment is procedurally proper.
Court finds that Defendants have not answered or otherwise
defended in this action, and Defendants are not minors,
incompetent, or in the military. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), (b)(1).
Substantively, Plaintiff's Complaint establishes that
Plaintiff held an exclusive license to market and sublicense
the Event, and the Event was legally available only through a
sublicense granted by Plaintiff. (Pl. Orig. Comp. at
¶¶ 6, 8.) The Complaint further establishes that
the transmission of the Event was electronically coded or
scrambled, and not intended for the use of the general
public. (Id. at ¶ 9.). Thus, to broadcast the
Event, Defendants had to decode the transmission with
unauthorized decoder equipment. (Id.; Mot. at ¶
supporting evidence includes a sworn affidavit from Thomas P.
Riley to support Plaintiff's claims of Defendants'
violations of § 553 and § 605. (App. at 5-11.).
Riley avows that Plaintiff did not provide decoding or
satellite equipment necessary for Defendants to receive the
signal to broadcast the Event. (Id. at 8.).
Plaintiff also provides an affidavit from Plaintiff's
President stating Plaintiff held exclusive distribution
rights to the Event (Id. at 13-14.), and an
affidavit from Saldana describing her visit to Mickey's
on May 17, 2014. (Id. at 16-17.). The Court accepts
the well-pleaded facts in Plaintiff's Complaint and
supporting evidence as true, to establish its claim for
relief under the FCA.