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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Neal

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

July 2, 2015

JOE HAND PROMOTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
EULA SHEFFIELD NEAL, CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN WAR BAMA BY CHRIS, L.L.C., d/b/a WAR BAMA, Defendants.

ORDER

KRISTI K. DuBOSE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Partial Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 29), and the Defendants'[1] Response (Docs. 35-36). Upon due consideration of the parties' briefs and evidentiary submissions, Plaintiff's motion as to Defendant War Bama By Chris LLC d/b/a War Bama's liability on Count One is GRANTED. Plaintiff's motion as to Defendant Eula Sheffield Neal's liability on Count One is DENIED. The issue of damages is CARRIED TO TRIAL.

I. Background

Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. ("Joe Hand") is a Pennsylvania corporation engaged in the closed circuit distribution "of sports and entertainment programming." distributes sports and entertainment programming to commercial establishments." (Docs. 1 at 6 and 29-3 at 2). "[Joe Hand] purchased and retained the commercial exhibition rights to the UFC 148: Silva v. Sonnen II' broadcast including all undercard bouts and the main prizefight, broadcasted on July 7, 2012." (Docs. 29-3 at ¶3, 29-4). This Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1331 (federal question), as this action was brought pursuant to 47 U.S.C. §§ 553, 605.

On July 24, 2014, Plaintiff Joe Hand commenced this action by filing suit against War Bama by Chris d/b/a War Bama LLC ("War Bama"), Eula Sheffield Neal ("Neal"), and Christopher Sherman ("Sherman") alleging violations of 47 U.S.C. §§ 553, 605, based on the unauthorized broadcast of UFC 148 at the War Bama. (Doc. 1). War Bama is an establishment located in Silas, Alabama. (Doc. 36 at 1). Neal and Sherman are the only members of War Bama, with Neal owning 60% and Sherman owning 40%. (Id.).[2]

Neal and War Bama answered the complaint on November 3, 2014. (Doc. 19). On April 30, 2015, Joe Hand timely filed its motion for partial summary judgment. (Doc. 29). Though not styled as such, Joe Hand's motion is partial due to the fact that it has not been brought against all defendants in this matter.

On October 6, 2014, Joe Hand made an application for entry of default against Sherman and on October 8, 2014, the Clerk entered a default against Sherman. (Docs. 14, 15). Plaintiff has not filed a motion for entry of default judgment.[3] Defendants Neal and War Bama responded to Joe Hand's motion for partial summary judgment on June 2, 2015 and the matter is ripe for consideration. (Docs. 35-36).

II. Findings of Fact[4]

As noted by the Defendants, "The UFC event was [] broadcast at the War Bama Club in Silas, Alabama. The UFC event was not authorized for broadcast at the War Bama." (Doc. 36 at 1). UFC 148 was obtained via a residential satellite account registered to Neal at her home address, which was in use at the War Bama. (Docs. 29-7 at 7-8 and 36-1 at 2).

On July 7, 2012, auditor Walter Childress went to the War Bama while UFC 148 was being broadcast. (Doc. 29-5). As evidenced by Childress' affidavit, UFC 148 was displayed via a projector screen and a television at the establishment. (Doc. 29-5). Childress paid a $10.00 cover charge to enter the War Bama. (Id. at 2). While there, Childress took three head counts of patrons present during the exhibition of UFC 148. The first, second, and third head counts were 6, 32, and 40, respectively. (Id.).

III. Standard of Review

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the 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(a). Rule 56(c) provides as follows:

(1) Supporting Factual Positions. A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), ...

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