J & J Sports Sues Las Margaritas Restaurant and Owner Scheker for Unauthorized Interception and Broadcast of “Star Power” Fight

Indianapolis, Indiana – J & J Sports Productions, Inc. of Campbell, California (“J & J Sports”) sued in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Luis A. Scheker (“Scheker”) and Margaritas US31 Mexican Restaurant, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana (“Las Margaritas”) intercepted and broadcast “Star Power”: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Victor Ortiz without authorization.

J & J Sports states that it is the exclusive domestic commercial distributor of Star Power: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Victor Ortiz (the “program”).  It has sued Las Margaritas, as well as Scheker as an individual, under the Communications Act of 1934 and The Cable & Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992. 

Specifically, Defendants have been accused of violating 47 U.S.C. § 605 and 47 U.S.C. § 553 by displaying the program on September 17, 2011 without a commercial license.  Regarding the claim under 47 U.S.C. § 605, the complaint alleges that with “full knowledge that the Program was not to be intercepted, received, published, divulged, displayed, and/or exhibited by commercial entities unauthorized to do so, each and every one of the above named Defendants . . . did unlawfully intercept, receive, publish, divulge, display, and/or exhibit the Program” for the purpose of commercial advantage and/or private financial gain. 

A count of conversion is also included which asserts that Defendants’ acts were “willful, malicious, egregious, and intentionally designed to harm Plaintiff J & J Sports” and that, as a result of being deprived of their commercial license fee, J & J Sports suffered “severe economic distress and great financial loss.” 

In addition to naming the separate legal entity, Margaritas US31 Mexican Restaurant, Inc., which apparently owns the restaurant, Plaintiff has also sued Mr. Scheker as an individual, alleging that he had the right and ability to supervise the activities of Las Margaritas.  J & J Sports asserts that those activities included the unlawful interception of Plaintiff’s program. 

J & J Sports also contends that Mr. Scheker specifically directed the employees of Las Margaritas to unlawfully intercept and broadcast Plaintiff’s program at Las Margaritas or, if he did not, that the actions of the employees of Las Margaritas are directly imputable to Mr. Scheker by virtue of his purported responsibility for the activities of Las Margaritas.  Mr. Scheker has also been named individually as a result of J & J Sports’ contention that he is a managing member of Margaritas US31 Mexican Restaurant, Inc.   Further, J & J asserts, Mr. Scheker, as an individual specifically identified on the liquor license for Las Margaritas, had an obvious and direct financial interest in the activities of Las Margaritas.

In the complaint, the intellectual property attorney for J & J Sports listed the following counts and requests for redress:

•Count I: Violation of Title 47 U.S.C. Section 605.  For this count, J & J Sports requests (a) statutory damages for each willful violation in an amount to $100,000.00 pursuant to Title 47 U.S.C. 605(e)(3)(C)(ii), and (b) the recovery of full costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, pursuant to Title 47 U.S.C. Section 605(e)(3)(B)(iii).

•Count II: Violation of Title 47 U.S.C. Section 553.  For this count, J & J Sports asks the court for (a) statutory damages for each violation in an amount to $10,000.00 pursuant to Title 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(A)(ii); (b) statutory damages for each willful violation in an amount to $50,000.00 pursuant to Title 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(B); (c) the recovery of full costs pursuant to Title 47 U.S.C. Section 553 (c)(2)(C); and (d) and in the discretion of the court, reasonable attorneys’ fees, pursuant to Title 47 U.S.C. Section 553 (c)(2)(C).

•Count III: Conversion.  For this count, the court is requested to order both compensatory and punitive damages from Defendants as the result of the Defendants’ allegedly egregious conduct, theft, and conversion of the program and deliberate injury to the Plaintiff.

Practice Tip #1: While on the surface this appears to be a copyright case, an allegation of interception under 47 U.S.C. § 605 is a different cause of action from copyright infringement.  However, a suit alleging interception does not preclude an additional lawsuit alleging different causes of action.  For example, the copyright holder can also sue for copyright infringement, which could increase damages by as much as $150,000. 

Practice Tip #2: As part of its complaint, J & J Sports claims that the Defendants’ actions have subjected them to “severe economic distress and great financial loss.”  It will be interesting to see what evidence it offers as proof that, as a result of allegedly not receiving its full commercial fee for the programming purportedly displayed by the Defendants – a circumstance presumably known to few other than the Defendants themselves – it has suffered severe economic distress and great financial loss.

This complaint was filed by Charlie W. Gordon of Greene & Cooper L.L.P.  The case was assigned to District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson and Magistrate Judge Debra McVickers Lynch in Southern District of Indiana and assigned Case No. 1:13-cv-01466-JMS-DML.

Complaint-J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. SCHEKER, et al.pdf

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