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Joe Hand Productions, Inc v. Myron Legg

September 5, 2012

JOE HAND PRODUCTIONS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MYRON LEGG, INDIVIDUALLY AND HON. HARRY D. LEINENWEBER AS AN OFFICER, DIRECTOR, SHAREHOLDER, AND/OR PRINCIPAL OF HOME STRETCH INN, INC., D/B/A HOME STRETCH INN AND HOME STRETCH INN, INC., D/B/A HOME STRETCH INN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge United States District Court

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Motion is granted in part and denied in part and Defendants' Motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Unless otherwise indicated, the following facts are from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 Undisputed Statements of Material Fact.

Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. is a Pennsylvania corporation with the exclusive right to distribute to commercial businesses, via closed circuit television, certain mixed martial arts competitions. (Other entities, such as Dish Network, enjoy the right to distribute such fights to residential customers.) Included in Plaintiff's contract rights was the right to distribute a fight on August 28, 2010 known as the "Edgar v. Penn 2 Broadcast" ("The Event").

Defendant Myron Legg ("Legg") is the sole shareholder of Defendant Home Stretch Inn, Inc., ("The Inn") located in River Grove, Illinois. He admits to showing the fight in The Inn on August 28, 2010.

Legg contends he lives in an apartment above The Inn and that Dish Network knowingly installed the satellite television service in both the residential and commercial areas of his building, on one residential account, and told him this was perfectly permissible. However, aside from citing to a copy of a Dish Network bill showing Legg paid the residential pay-per-view fee of $44.99 for the fight, Legg provides no citation to the record for these contentions, and Plaintiff asks that they be stricken from the record.

Plaintiff contends it is impossible that Defendants accidentally violated 47 U.S.C. § 605(a), and insists it was a willful violation on Defendants' part. As proof, Plaintiff points to Dish Network's Customer Agreement that states that customers agree not to show any of Dish Network's services in any areas open to the public or in commercial establishments. However, Plaintiff did not produce any evidence that Defendants signed or even were presented with such an agreement.

After The Event, Plaintiff sent The Inn a letter on October 1, 2010 informing the business it was in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605 and asking it to enter into settlement negotiations. The Inn, in interrogatories that Plaintiff references, admits that besides The Event, The Inn also showed seven other mixed martial arts fights for which Plaintiff had exclusive licensing authority. Plaintiff argues that because three of these fights occurred after the October 1, 2010 letter, Defendants' violation was necessarily willful. However, none of the evidence Plaintiff cites establishes specific dates for these seven other fights. See Pl.'s Memo, Ex. B(1), ¶¶ 36-43, ECF No. 23-5, PageIDs 112-113.

Plaintiff originally brought three Counts of action: (1) Violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605 or in the alternative (2) Violation of 47 U.S.C. § 553, and (3) Illinois common law conversion. Section 605 applies to satellite transmissions while § 553 applies to cable transmissions. Having determined this case involves satellite television, Plaintiff has dropped Count II.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Court applies the ordinary summary judgment standard. See, e.g., FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Liability under 47 U.S.C. ...


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