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J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Outlaw-Soderlind

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 16, 2016

J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
DALTON BRADY OUTLAW-SODERLIND and CERRESSO FORT, individually and d/b/a Element Boxing and Fitness; ELEMENT BOXING AND FITNESS LLC, d/b/a Element Boxing and Fitness; and JOHN DOES I-V, Defendants.

          Kimberly M. Hanlon, KIMBERLY M. HANLON LLC, for plaintiff.

          ORDER

          PATRICK J. SCHILTZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc. (“J & J”) sued defendant Cerresso Fort and his business partner, claiming that they unlawfully intercepted and exhibited a pay-per- view boxing match in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 553.[1] See ECF No. 1, No. 15-CV-2330.[2]This matter is before the Court on J & J's motion for a default judgment against Fort. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants the motion and enters judgment against Fort in the amount of $11, 000.

         I. ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT

         J & J served the summons and complaint on Fort on June 26, 2015. ECF No. 34.[3]Fort did not respond to J & J's complaint within 21 days. At the request of J & J, the Clerk entered default against Fort on April 15, 2016.[4] ECF No. 39.

         J & J now moves for entry of a default judgment against Fort. ECF No. 40. The Court held a hearing on J & J's motion on November 4, 2016. ECF No. 48. Fort did not appear. The Court finds that J & J is entitled to a default judgment against Fort under Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).

         II. DAMAGES UNDER 47 U.S.C. § 553

         Section 553 authorizes recovery of both statutory damages (not to exceed $10, 000) and enhanced damages (not to exceed $50, 000). See 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3). Courts have broad discretion to fix the exact amount of damages. See Comcast of Ill. X v. Multi-Vision Elecs., Inc., 491 F.3d 938, 946-47 (8th Cir. 2007). J & J asks for $60, 000 in statutory and enhanced damages. For the reasons explained below, however, the Court will award only $11, 000 in statutory and enhanced damages.

         A. Statutory Damages

         Statutory damages are compensatory in nature. They are intended to compensate the plaintiff for the harm that it suffered because of the defendant's actions. J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Cortes, No. 10-CV-1952 (RHK/JJK), 2012 WL 2370206, at *1 (D. Minn. June 22, 2012). Here, as in Cortes, it would have cost the defendant at least $2, 200 “to obtain a license to lawfully broadcast the boxing match in question.” Id. at *1; cf. ECF No. 41 at 18; ECF No. 43-1 at 2. The Court will therefore award $2, 200 in statutory damages to reimburse J & J for the money it lost because Fort failed to pay for a license to broadcast the boxing match.

         B. Enhanced Damages

         Enhanced damages are punitive in nature. They are intended to “punish willful violations of the law and deter similar misconduct in the future.” Cortes, 2012 WL 2370206, at *2. The plaintiff can recover enhanced damages only if the defendant acts “willfully”-that is, with a “reckless disregard of the statutory requirements, ” Comcast, 491 F.3d at 947-and “for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, ” 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(B).

         The facts here warrant an award of enhanced damages. Fort could not have “mistakenly, innocently, or accidentally” intercepted the boxing match that he unlawfully exhibited. ECF No. 43 at 3. He charged his patrons $15 to $20 to view the match. ECF No. 42-1 at 1, 3. And the complaint alleges-and therefore the Court must find-that Fort showed the match “[w]ith full knowledge” that he was not authorized to do so and “for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain.” ECF No. 1 at 4, No. 15-CV-2330; cf. Marshall v. Baggett, 616 F.3d 849, 852 (8th Cir. 2010) (noting that factual allegations in the complaint cannot be contested after entry of a default judgment). Taken together, these facts support an award of enhanced damages.

         In determining the proper amount of enhanced damages, courts generally multiply the statutory damages by “three to six times.” Cortes, 2012 WL 2370206, at *2. In choosing an appropriate multiplier, courts consider several factors, such as the size of the viewing audience, whether the defendant was a ...


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