J & J Sports Sues Los Chilaquiles Restaurant and Owner Carranza 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 Loyda A. Carranza and Carranza, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana (collectively, “Carranza”), both doing business as Los Chilaquiles Restaurant, 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 Carranza, Inc. and Loyda A. Carranza 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, Carranza, Inc., which apparently owns the restaurant, Plaintiff has also sued Defendant Loyda Carranza as an individual, alleging that she had the right and ability to supervise the activities of Los Chilaquiles.  J & J Sports asserts that those activities included the unlawful interception of Plaintiff’s program.  J & J Sports also contends that Ms. Carranza specifically directed the employees of Los Chilaquiles to unlawfully intercept and broadcast Plaintiff’s program at Los Chilaquiles or, if she did not, that the actions of the employees of Los Chilaquiles are directly imputable to Ms. Carranza by virtue of her purported responsibility for the activities of Los Chilaquiles.  Ms. Carranza has also been named individually as a result of J & J Sports’ contention that she is a managing member of Carranza, Inc. and, further, as an individual specifically identified on the liquor license for Los Chilaquiles, had an obvious and direct financial interest in the activities of Los Chilaquiles.

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: The interception claim has a two-year statute of limitations, which explains why this complaint was filed on September 13, 2013, almost exactly two years after the broadcast of the program.  J & J Sports initiated 708 lawsuits in 2011 alone.  It appears that many of them were also filed near the eve of the two-year anniversary of the broadcast of the program at issue in each individual lawsuit.

Practice Tip #2: 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. 

This complaint was filed by Charlie W. Gordon of Greene & Cooper L.L.P.  The case was assigned to District Judge Tonya Walton Pratt, Southern District of Indiana, and assigned Case No. 1:13-cv-01467-TWP-DML.


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