PHILADELPHIA – A federal court ruled a closed-circuit and pay-per-view sports programming provider was entitled to collect a judgment of $2,200 against a restaurant and its owner who allegedly engaged in piracy of one of its events and did not appear or plead to defend themselves from this charge.
Campbell, Calif.-based J&J Sports Productions, Inc. filed suit against Carmen Cruz and Rivera, Inc., doing business as Lilly’s Restaurant in Reading, in April 2014 for their alleged piracy of a televised middleweight championship boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto on May 5, 2012.
J&J claimed to confirm through an investigator that the Mayweather-Cotto fight was shown to patrons at Lilly’s Restaurant on the night in question, and further alleged the restaurant was not in possession of a license to exhibit that broadcast.
Since filing a lone answer to the complaint in September, Cruz has not responded to J&J’s lawsuit in any way, shape or form, or appeared for any proceedings thereto, according to court records.
J&J then filed a motion for summary judgment on Feb. 19, which Judge Juan R. Sanchez, of U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, ruled on May 18.
“J&J claims Cruz unlawfully intercepted the Program, displayed it at Lilly’s Restaurant, and did so willfully and for financial gain,” Sanchez said.
Though Sanchez found some of J&J’s claims were “conclusory” (such as Cruz directing Lilly’s Restaurant employees to unlawfully intercept the boxing match broadcast), he also found J&J had established a case that Cruz, at the very least, had the “ability” to supervise employees and direct them to commit piracy, whether she actually did so or not.
“She is therefore vicariously liable,” Sanchez wrote.
However, because J&J had failed to establish Cruz personally intercepted the boxing match broadcast, directed her employees to intercept the boxing match, or had knowledge of the interception, the Court was unable to conclude any conduct on her part was “willful” under a statute for enhanced damages proposed by J&J. Sanchez’s opinion concluded she was only liable for the original cost of the license to broadcast the boxing match, $2,200.
“In sum, Cruz is liable only for actual damages and not damages related to profit or for enhanced damages for willful infringement. In this case, according to the rate card, the licensing fee for a commercial establishment with Lilly’s capacity to show the Program was $2,200,” Sanchez said.
“Cruz is therefore jointly and severally liable for the $2,200 license fee as this figure represents the actual damages estimation of the statutory damages award. The Court will allow J&J 14 days from the date of the order entering judgment to submit evidence and costs of attorneys’ fees pursuant to [federal law].”
The plaintiff was originally seeking $110,000 worth of damages in this case, plus attorney’s fees, court costs and any other relief the Court deemed just and proper.
The plaintiff was represented by Thomas P. Reilly of the Law Offices of Thomas P. Reilly, in South Pasadena, Calif., and John R. Brown in Philadelphia.
U.S. Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania case 5:14-cv-02496
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org