United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
the Court is Plaintiff Malibu Media, LLC
(“Plaintiff”)'s motion for default judgment
against Defendant Wei Ho (“Defendant”). (Doc. No.
21.) Given that Defendant has yet to appear or defend in this
action, no opposition to the motion has been filed. For the
reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion in part
and enter default judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against
is a California limited liability company that owns the
copyrights to various adult films, including ten films (the
“Works”) identified in Plaintiff's amended
complaint. (Doc. No. 14 ¶¶ 3, 8.) Defendant
is an individual residing at 672 Cumberland Avenue, Apartment
D, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 9.)
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant, without authorization,
downloaded, copied, and distributed copies of each of the
Works using the BitTorrent file distribution network
(“BitTorrent”). (Id. ¶ 23.)
Plaintiff asserts that its investigator was able to connect
to the internet protocol (IP) address identified as belonging
to Defendant and download pieces of digital media files that
have been verified to contain digital copies of each of the
Works from Defendant. (Id. ¶¶ 17-21.)
Plaintiff asserts that it did not authorize, permit, or
consent to the distribution of the Works by Defendant.
(Id. ¶ 31.)
March 13, 2018, Plaintiff initiated the instant action by
filing a complaint against Defendant “John Doe
subscriber assigned IP address 184.108.40.206”
asserting a copyright infringement claim pursuant to 17
U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff
filed an amended complaint on November 16, 2018, in which it
asserts one claim of copyright infringement against Defendant
pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501. (Doc. No.
14.) A review of the docket reveals that Defendant was served
with copies of the summons and amended complaint on December
19, 2018, establishing a deadline for Defendant to file an
answer or otherwise respond to the amended complaint of
January 9, 2019. (Doc. No. 23.) As of the date of this
Memorandum, Defendant has not appeared, answered, moved, or
otherwise responded to Plaintiff's complaint. On February
14, 2019, Plaintiff requested an entry of default against
Defendant (Doc. No. 19), and the Clerk of Court entered
default against Defendant on the same date (Doc. No. 20).
Plaintiff filed the instant motion for default judgment (Doc.
No. 21) and a brief in support thereof (Doc. No. 22) on
February 27, 2019. Because Defendant has not yet responded to
the pending motion for default judgment, the Court deems
Plaintiff's motion for default judgment unopposed.
Accordingly, the motion is ripe for disposition.
judgments are governed by a two-step process set forth under
Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. An entry of
default by the Clerk of Court under Rule 55(a) is a
prerequisite to a later entry of a default judgment under
Rule 55(b). See 10A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur
R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure §
2682 (3d ed. 2007) (“Prior to obtaining a default
judgment under either Rule 55(b)(1) or Rule 55(b)(2), there
must be an entry of default as provided by Rule
55(a).”). Once the Clerk of Court has entered a
default, the party seeking the default may then move the
Court to enter a default judgment under Rule 55(b)(2). Entry
of default does not entitle a claimant to default judgment as
a matter of right. See 10 James Wm. Moore et
al., Moore's Federal Practice § 55.31
(Matthew Bender ed. 2010). Indeed, it is well settled that
decisions relating to the entry of default judgments are
committed to the sound discretion of the district court.
See Emcasco Ins. Co. v. Sambrick, 834 F.2d 71, 74
(3d Cir. 1987).
factors control the exercise of the district court's
discretion in assessing whether default judgment should be
granted following the entry of default: “(1) prejudice
to the plaintiff if default is denied, (2) whether the
defendant appears to have a litigable defense, and (3)
whether defendant's delay is due to culpable
conduct.” See Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210
F.3d 154, 164 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing United States v.
$55, 518.05 in U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d 192, 195 (3d Cir.
1984)). “A finding that default judgment is
appropriate, however, is not the end of the inquiry.”
Martin v. Nat'l Check Recovery Servs., LLC, No.
12-1230, 2016 WL 3670849, at *1 (M.D. Pa. July 11, 2016).
Prior to entering a default judgment, the Court must also
determine whether the “unchallenged facts constitute a
legitimate cause of action.” See Wright,
et al., supra, at § 2688; Broad.
Music, Inc. v. Spring Mount Area Bavarian Resort, Ltd.,
555 F.Supp.2d 537, 541 (E.D. Pa. 2008) (“Consequently,
before granting a default judgment, the Court must . . .
ascertain whether the unchallenged facts constitute a
legitimate cause of action, since a party in default does not
admit mere conclusions of law.” (citations omitted)).
In conducting this inquiry, “the well-pleaded, factual
allegations of the complaint . . . are accepted as true and
treated as though they were established by proof.”
See E. Elec. Corp. of N.J. v. Shoemaker Const. Co.,
652 F.Supp.2d 599, 605 (E.D. Pa. 2009) (citation omitted).
While the Court must accept as true the well-pleaded factual
allegations of the complaint, the Court need not accept the
moving party's factual allegations or legal conclusions
relating to the amount of damages. See Comdyne I, Inc. v.
Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142, 1149 (3d Cir. 1990).
reviewed the record, including Plaintiff's amended
complaint, motion, supporting brief, exhibits, and
accompanying affidavits, the Court finds that the entry of
default judgment against Defendant and in favor of Plaintiff
is appropriate. As an initial matter, the Court observes that
Plaintiff's unchallenged allegations in the complaint,
taken as true, state a legitimate cause of action based on
copyright infringement because Plaintiff has alleged
“(1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of
constituent elements of the work that are
original.” See In re McGraw-Hill Global Education
Holdings LLC, 909 F.3d 48, 67 (3d Cir. 2018) (internal
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Feist Publ'ns, Inc.
v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361 (1991)).
the Court finds that each of the three Chamberlain
factors weighs in favor of entering default judgment against
Defendant. First, Plaintiff will be prejudiced if the Court
declines to enter default judgment because Plaintiff is
unable to proceed with the action due to Defendant's
failure to respond and has no other means of recovering
against Defendant. See Broad. Music, Inc. v. Kujo Long,
LLC, No. 14-449, 2014 WL 4059711, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Aug.
14, 2014) (“Plaintiffs will be prejudiced . . . by
their current inability to proceed with their action due to
[the] [d]efendants' failure to defend.”). Second,
Defendant has not asserted a meritorious defense to
Plaintiff's claims through the filing of an answer or
other response to the complaint, or through the filing of a
response to the instant motion. Consequently, the Court is
unable to conclude from Defendant's silence that
Defendant has a viable, litigable defense. See Laborers
Local Union 158 v. Fred Shaffer Concrete, No.10-1524,
2011 WL 1397107, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 13, 2011). Third, the
Court cannot discern from the record any excuse or
justification for Defendant's default apart from
Defendant's own culpability. Indeed, Defendant has failed
to enter an appearance or file a timely answer to the
complaint and has offered no reasons for his failure to do
so. “A defendant's default, or its decision not to
defend against allegations in a complaint, may be grounds for
concluding that the defendant's actions are
willful.” Innovative Office Prods., Inc. v.
Amazon.com, Inc., No. 10-4487, 2012 WL 1466512, at *3
(E.D. Pa. Apr. 26, 2012). In the absence of an excuse or
justification for Defendant's failure to participate in
this litigation, the Court must conclude that the delay is
the result of Defendant's culpable conduct. See
Laborers Local Union 158, 2011 WL 1397107, at *2.
Accordingly, the Court is satisfied that the
Chamberlain factors counsel in favor of entering
default judgment in favor of Plaintiff.