Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Directtv, LLC. v. Panacea of Islands, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

April 28, 2017

DIRECTTV, LLC, a California limited liability company; Plaintiff,
v.
PANACEA OF THE ISLANDS, INC., doing business as The Islander; and HERMAN R. SHIRAH, JR., individually, and as officer, director, shareholder, and/or principal of Panacea of the Islands, Inc., a/k/a Rudy Shirah; Defendants.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's request that the Court enter an order pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 41(a)(2) dismissing Count II of the amended complaint. (Doc. 83.) Defendants have filed no response.[1] For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's request and Count II is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE for good cause. The Court awards Plaintiff $20, 000 in damages, $1, 276.00 in costs, and $31, 782.00 in attorney's fees. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to enter judgment against Defendants and to CLOSE this case.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 30, 2013, Plaintiff filed this action alleging claims for conversion, violation of the Federal Communications Act ("FCA"), violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act ("ECPA"), and requesting punitive damages and injunctive relief.[2] (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff's claim for civil conversion was dismissed by order of this Court on March 12, 2014. (Doc. 61.) On March 24, 2015, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff's Federal Communications Act claim. (Doc. 78.)

         The Court requested that the parties file briefs regarding the appropriate amount of damages for Plaintiff's FCA claim. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff filed that brief, Defendant did not. (Doc. 79.) Because Plaintiff's ECPA claim had not been dismissed, however, the Court held that ruling in abeyance pending the outcome of trial.

         On March 29, 2017, the Court entered an Order and Notice of Pretrial Proceedings. (Doc. 80.) On April 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal as to Count II of Plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. 83.) In this notice, Plaintiff requested that the Court enter an order dismissing the ECPA claim. (Id.) Because the Court has determined this sole remaining claim in this case should be dismissed with prejudice, there is no longer any need for a trial. Accordingly, the Court now rules on the appropriate damages in this case.

         ANALYSIS

         Pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605(e) (3) (C) (i), Plaintiff may elect to recover either statutory or actual damages for violations of the FCA. That section awards statutory damages of not less than $1, 000 or more than $10, 000. Id. However, if a court finds that the violation was "committed willfully and for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain, " then the court may increase the award of damages up to $100, 000 per violation. Id. at § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). A court may also grant the recovery of full costs, including reasonable attorney's fees. Id. at § 605 (e) (3) (B) (iii) . The Court has previously concluded that Defendants have indeed violated the FCA. (Doc. 78.) Accordingly, an award of damages is appropriate. Plaintiff in this case has requested $10, 000 in statutory damages, $30, 000 in enhanced statutory damages, and $33, 058.00 in attorney's fees and costs for Defendants' FCA violation. (Doc. 79 at 25.)

         I. STATUTORY DAMAGES

         The Court will award Plaintiff $10, 000 in statutory damages. Plaintiff alleges, and Defendants have not disputed, that Plaintiff suffered substantial damages during the ten years that Defendants used a residential account to provide commercial programing to their commercial establishment-The Islander. (Doc. 79.) Accordingly, the Court concludes that an award of $10, 000 is appropriate. See Kingvision Pay-Per-View Ltd. v. Wise, 2006 WL 91300, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 13, 2006).

         II. ENHANCED STATUTORY DAMAGES

         The Court may also award Plaintiff enhanced statutory damages if the Court determines that Defendants' conduct was willful and done for direct or indirect commercial advancement. The evidence suggests that Defendants used a residential account to provide service to their commercial establishment for over ten years. This was done despite the fact that every document sent to Defendants regarding the account listed it as a residential account for service at 629 Oemler Loop Savannah, GA 31410. Based on this information, the Court concludes that Defendants' conduct was willful and done for direct or indirect commercial advancement, and Plaintiff is entitled to enhanced statutory damages. However, Plaintiff has proven only one violation of the FCA, which occurred on September 27, 2012. Accordingly, the award of $30, 000 Plaintiff requests is not appropriate.

         However, as Defendants did have to take affirmative and willful steps to illegally broadcast television programming, some enhancement is appropriate. See J&J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Dominican Mexican Rest., LLC, 2012 WL 5880917, at *4 (N.D.Ga. 2012) (awarding statutory damages "because the Defendant had to undertake affirmative and willful steps to intercept and illegally broadcast"). To accomplish the deterrent goals of the statute, the Court will award $10, 000 in enhanced penalties. See J&J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Blackwell, 2009 WL 2171897, at *3 (M.D. Ala. July 21, 2009) (doubling statutory damages as deterrence).

         III. ATTORNEY' ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.