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J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Mario, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

November 6, 2014

J&J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
MARIO, LLC, d/b/a The Broadway Nightclub, et al., Defendants,

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

RODNEY W. SIPPEL, District Judge.

Plaintiff J&J Sports Productions, Inc. owned the nationwide television distribution rights to " Star Power: Floyd Maywether, Jr. v. Victor Ortiz Championship Fight Program " telecast, an Ultimate Fighting Championship broadcast which took place on September 17, 2011. J&J Sports Productions, Inc. sold the right to publically exhibit this broadcast to various public establishments (eg. hotels, racetracks, casinos, bars, taverns, restaurants, social clubs, etc.) A number of these establishments illegally intercepted the broadcast and showed it to their patrons without obtaining a license to do so from J&J Productions, Inc.

The present lawsuit alleges that Defendants Mario, LLC (d/b/a The Broadway Nightclub), Julius Mehmeti and Krennar Mehmeti illegally intercepted the broadcast and played it to patrons at the Broadway Nightclub. J&J Sports Productions, Inc. asserts claims Defendants under two alternative federal statutes and state law conversion. Defendant Julius Mahmeti has moved for summary judgment. Because J&J Sports Productions, Inc. has failed to produce any evidence to support its claims against Julius Mehmeti as an individual defendant, I will grant Mehmeti's motion for summary judgment.

Background

J&J Sports Productions, Inc.'s first claim is pursuant to the Unauthorized Reception of Cable Services, 47 U.S.C. § 553. This statute prohibits the unauthorized receipt of programing from a cable service like Charter Communications. It provides for statutory damages of not less that $250 but not more than $10, 000. Id . at §553(c)(3)(A)(ii). Where the violation was committed willfully and for the purpose of commercial gain the statutory damages may be increased in an amount of not more than $50, 000. Id . at §553(c)(3)(B). Attorneys fees and costs may also be recovered under this statute. Id . at § 553(c)(2)(C).

Its second claim is under the Unauthorized Publication or Use of Communications, 47 U.S.C. § 605. In the context of the present lawsuit, this statute prohibits the interception of video programming from a satellite that is primarily intended for the direct receipt by cable operators to send out over their cable network. It provides for statutory damages of not less that $1, 000 but not more than $10, 000. Id . at § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II). Where the violation was committed willfully and for the purpose of commercial gain the statutory damages may be increased in an amount of not more than $100, 000. Id . at § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). Attorneys fees and costs may also be recovered under this statute. Id . at § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii).

The third claim in this lawsuit is a state law conversion claim.

Defendant Mario, LLC is a limited liability company. Paragraph 7 of J&J Sports Productions, Inc.'s complaint alleges that Julius Mehmeti and Krennar Mehmeti are the "owners, and/or operator, and/or licensee, and/or permitee, and/or persons in charge, and/or individuals with dominion, oversight and management of the commercial establishment doing business as Mario, LLC." Julius Mehmeti and Krennar Mehmeti have been sued in their individual capacities.

Defendants have been served. Mario, LLC has been administratively dissolved, has no assets, and is no longer in business. On October 10, 2013, the Clerk of Court entered a default against the Mario, LLC because it failed to file an answer or other responsive pleading.

Julius Mehmeti and Krennar Mehmeti each filed an answer to the complaint. Both denied J&J Sports Productions, Inc. allegations in paragraph 7 of the complaint regarding ownership or control of Mario, LLC. or its employees.

Defendant Julius Mehmeti has moved for summary judgment on all of the claims against him individually. He has filed an affidavit which states that he was a former member of Mario, LLC. He states that he has no knowledge of how or why the fight was shown at The Broadway Nightclub on September 17, 2011. He states further that he was not present at The Broadway Nightclub on September 17, 2011, he was not supervising or managing employees at the club, nor did he instruct or grant permission to any employee or other person to show the fight.

Mehmeti seeks summary judgment because J&J Sports Productions, Inc has not produced any evidence that would make him personally liable for the claims made against him in the complaint.

Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, demonstrates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Lynn v. Deaconess Medical Center , 160 F.3d 484, 486 (8th Cir. 1998)(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis of its motion and identifying those portions of the affidavits, pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file which it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). When such a motion is made and supported by the movant, the nonmoving party may not rest on his pleadings but must produce sufficient evidence to support the existence of the essential elements of his case on which he bears the burden of proof. Id ...


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