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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc v. Sports Nut, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division

December 19, 2017

JOE HAND PROMOTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
THE SPORTS NUT, LLC d/b/a THE SPORTS ZONE a/k/a WHISKEY CREEK BAR & GRILL and ERIC ALBRIGHT, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         The above-entitled civil action is before the Court on Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions Inc.'s (“JHP”) Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. 24). JHP seeks a judgment by default against Defendants Eric Albright and Whiskey Creek Bar and Grill, LLC (“Whiskey Creek”) with respect to all claims alleged in its complaint.

         JHP filed the complaint in this action on November 23, 2016. (Doc. 1). JHP then filed its Amended Complaint on March 27, 2017. (Doc. 13). JHP “is a company that specializes in distributing and licensing premier sporting events to commercial locations such as bars.” (Id. at 3). Here, JHP “held the exclusive commercial distribution rights to the broadcast of Ultimate Fighting Championship® 197: Jones v. Saint Preux telecast nationwide on April 23, 2016.” (Id. at 1). In its Amended Complaint, JHP alleges that the Defendants violated the Communications Act of 1934 when they aired a showing of the UFC fight in the bar one evening. (Id. at 2-5).

         The summons and Amended Complaint were served on Albright and Whiskey Creek on April 20, 2017. (Doc. 18); (Doc. 19). On May 18, 2017, after Defendants failed to appear, answer, or otherwise defend, JHP filed two Motions for Entry of Default. (Doc. 20); (Doc. 21). The Clerk filed the Entry of Default against both Defendants on May 22, 2017. (Doc. 22). JHP filed its Motion for Default Judgment on September 29, 2017. (Doc. 24).

         As support for its Motion for Default Judgment, JHP has submitted the declaration of F. Page Gamble, the attorney of record for JHP. (Doc. 24-2). The affidavit establishes that “Defendants are not infants, incompetent persons, or persons in military service or otherwise exempted from default judgment under the Service Members Civil Relief Act of 2003.” (Id. at 1).

         II. Standards and Analysis

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 provides in pertinent part:

(a) Entering a Default. When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default.
(b) Entering a Default Judgment.
(2) By the Court. In all other cases, the party must apply to the court for a default judgment. A default judgment may be entered against a minor or incompetent person only if represented by a general guardian, conservator, or other like fiduciary who has appeared. If the party against whom a default judgment is sought has appeared personally or by a representative, that party or its representative must be served with written notice of the application at least 7 days before the hearing. The court may conduct hearings or make referrals--preserving any federal statutory right to a jury trial--when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to:
(A) conduct an accounting;
(B) determine the amount of damages;
(C) establish the truth of any allegation by evidence; or
(D) investigate any other matter.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 55.

         Because default has been entered against the Defendants, the allegations of JHP's Amended Complaint are taken as true. See 10A Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688 (3d ed. 1998) (“If the court determines that defendant is in default, the factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating to the amount of damages, will be taken as true.”).

         The Court's analysis of JHP's Motion for Default Judgment involves a two-step process. First, the Court must satisfy itself that it has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of the lawsuit. See Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994) (holding that district courts “always have an obligation to examine sua sponte their jurisdiction before reaching the merits of any claim”). Second, the Court must ensure that JHP has satisfied the elements of Rule 55 and is entitled to the default judgment it seeks. See Nishimatsu Constr. Co v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975)[1] (explaining that “a defendant's default does not in itself warrant the court entering a default judgment” and that “[t]here must be a sufficient basis in the pleadings for the judgment entered”).

         A. Jurisdiction

         1. Persona ...


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