IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
July 26, 2011
J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
STUART L. THOMAS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Slomsky, J.
On June 23, 2011, Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc. filed a Motion for Default Judgment in this case. (Doc. No. 7.) The following day, the Court issued an Order scheduling a hearing on the Motion and directing that all parties appear at the hearing "to show cause as to why a default judgment should not be entered against Defendants Stuart L. Thomas and Bustleton Famous of Holland, Inc. and to assess damages." (Doc. No. 8.) The hearing was held on July 13, 2011. Despite being served with notice of the hearing (see Doc. No. 9), and being afforded almost three weeks to file a response, Defendants failed to appear at the hearing or otherwise respond to the Motion.
During the hearing, the Court determined that the unchallenged factual allegations contained in the Complaint established a cause of action under 47 U.S.C. § 605.*fn1 Further, the Court explained that consideration of the Poulis*fn2 factors supported the entry of default judgment against Defendants.*fn3 The Court also determined that under 47 U.S.C. §§ 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II)*fn4 and 605(e)(3)(C)(ii),*fn5 Plaintiff was entitled to damages in the amount of $27,600, representing $9,200 in statutory damages and $18,400 in enhanced damages. Since at the time of the hearing counsel for Plaintiff had not yet submitted evidence on fees and costs incurred in the litigation, the Court was unable to determine the appropriate amount of attorney's fees and costs to award.
Following the hearing, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. No. 11.) Counsel for Plaintiff then submitted evidence of fees and costs incurred in litigating the case. (Doc. No. 15.) The Court will now consider this evidence to determine the amount of reasonable attorney's fees and costs that should be awarded to counsel for Plaintiff. For reasons that follow, the Court will award attorney's fees and costs to Plaintiff in the amount of $1,518.73. The Court will enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendants in the amount of $29,118.73, which includes $27,600 in damages and $1,518.73 in attorney's fees and costs.
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On Saturday, December 6, 2008, a Welterweight Championship fight was held between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao. (Doc. No. 7.) Plaintiff was granted the exclusive nationwide commercial distribution right to broadcast this fight. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 9.) The broadcast was titled: "The Dream Match": Oscar De La Hoya v. Manny Pacquiao, Welterweight Championship Fight Program (the "Program"). (Id.) The exclusive right to the Program included all under-card bouts and fight commentary. (Id.)
Plaintiff sold sub-licensing rights to the Program to casinos, racetracks, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. (Id. ¶ 10.) Due to the potential for rampant piracy of the broadcast, Plaintiff hired auditors and investigators to detect and identify any illegal interception of the boradcast. (Doc. No. 7-4 ¶¶ 4-6.) Plaintiff provided its auditors and investigators with a list of customers who paid the license fee to broadcast the Program. (Id.) Defendant Bar & Grill did not pay the licensing fee for the Program, but was identified by investigators as having obtained access to the Program. (Id. ¶ 7.)
At approximately 10:00 p.m. on the evening the Program aired, Jonathan Sherno, an investigator hired by Plaintiff, went to Defendant Bar & Grill. (Doc. No. 7-3.) He paid a $5.00 cover charge to enter the Bar. (Id.) Once inside Mr. Sherno observed that the Program was being shown on three televisions located behind the bar. (Id.) The capacity of Defendant Bar & Grill is approximately fifty people. (Id.) Mr. Sherno counted the number of patrons at the Bar on three occasions. The first time there were seventeen patrons, the second time there were twenty-three patrons, and the third time there were thirty or more patrons. (Id.)
On December 3, 2010, Plaintiff filed the Complaint alleging that Defendants violated federal law in broadcasting the Program without a license. (Doc. No. 1.) On February 3, 2011, Plaintiff served Defendants. (Doc. Nos. 4, 5.) On February 22, 2011, Plaintiff filed proof of service with the Court. (Id.) Defendants did not file an Answer to the Complaint within the time provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. No 7-1.) On June 8, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Request for Entry of Default against Defendants. (Doc. No. 6.) On June 8, 2011, the Clerk entered default.
On June 23, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. No. 7.) Defendants were served with the Motion. (Doc. No. 7-1.) As noted above, on June 24, 2011, the Court filed an Order scheduling a Show Cause Hearing on the Motion. (Doc. No. 8.) The Court ordered that Plaintiff serve Defendants in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4 and file Proof of Service with the Court. (Id.) On June 27, 2011, Plaintiff served Defendants with a copy of the Show Cause Order and filed Proof of Service with the Court. (Doc. No. 9.)
As stated above, the Court held a hearing on the Motion on July 13, 2011. Following the hearing, the Court granted the Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. No. 11.) On July 18, 2011, counsel for Plaintiff filed a Declaration Regarding Attorney's Fees and Costs. (Doc. No. 15.)
Having determined at the hearing that the unchallenged factual allegations contained in the Complaint established a cause of action under 47 U.S.C. § 605, the Court next will determine the amount of reasonable attorney's fees and costs to which Plaintiff is entitled under 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii).*fn6
The most useful starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate. The calculation provides an objective basis on which to make an initial estimate of the value of the lawyer's services.
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). This calculation produces what is referred to as the lodestar amount. Damian J. v. Sch. Dist. of Phila., 358 F. App'x 333, 334 (3d Cir. 2009). To determine the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation, the Third Circuit directs that the Court exclude any hours deemed "excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary." McKenna v. City of Philadelphia, 582 F.3d 447, 455 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. at 434).
Here, Plaintiff requests $508.73 in attorney's fees. (Doc. No. 15 ¶ 11.) The amount requested is based on 5.058 hours of work performed by counsel for Plaintiff.*fn7 (Id. ¶¶ 9,11.) The work done includes preparation and filing of the Complaint, the Request for Entry of Default, and the Motion for Default Judgment. Given the necessity of performing these tasks and the relatively short time in which the tasks were completed, the Court finds that these hours are not "excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary" and were reasonably expended on the litigation.
The amount requested is based on the hourly rates of Attorney Thomas
P. Riley, his administrative assistant, and paralegal, which are $450
per hour, $75 per hour, and $150 per hour respectively. (Id. ¶ 11.) To
determine a reasonable hourly rate, courts "consistently look to the
marketplace as [a] guide to what is 'reasonable.'" Missouri v.
Jenkins, 491 U.S. 274, 285 (1989). Counsel for Plaintiff certifies
that the "rates for legal, administrative, and paralegal time are well
within the guidelines of the prevailing market rates within Los
Angeles County," where he practices. (Doc. No. 15 ¶ 8.)*fn8
The Court agrees that $450 hourly rate is reasonable based
on Mr. Riley's 18 years of legal experience. See Nadarajah v. Holder, 569
F.3d 906, 917 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Comite de Jornaleros de Glendale
v. City of Glendale, CV-04-3251 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 19, 2005))
(recognizing that $450 was a reasonable hourly rate for an attorney
practicing in the Los Angeles area with 15 years of
The rates charged by Mr. Riley's administrative assistant, $75 per hour, and his paralegal, $150 per hour, are also reasonable. See League of Residential Neighborhood Advocates v. City of Los Angeles, 633 F. Supp. 2d 1119, 1133 (C.D. Cal. 2009) (finding that the $115 hourly rate charged by an administrative assistant and the $145 hourly rate charged by a paralegal were reasonable).
Having determined that both the hours expended and the rate charged are reasonable, the Court will award attorney's fees for the full amount requested, $508.73. Plaintiff also requests $1,010 in costs. This amount includes investigative costs, payment of the filing fee, and a service of process charge. Each cost was necessary and reasonably expended on the litigation. Accordingly, the Court will award $1,010 in costs.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that Plaintiff's request for attorney's fees and costs in the amount of $1,518.73 is reasonable. The Court will enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendants in the amount of $29,118.73, representing $27,600 in statutory and enhanced damages and $1,518.73 in attorney's fees and costs.
An appropriate Order follows.