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J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Duarte

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 1, 2014

J & J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
DANILO DUARTE, et al., Defendants

For J & J Sports Productions, Inc., Plaintiff: Patricia A. Szumowski, Szumowski Law, P.C., Hadley, MA.

For Danilo Duarte, Danana, Inc., doing business as, La Raza, Defendants: Douglas J. Ramsey, Attorney Douglas J. Ramsey, North Grafton, MA.

ORDER

David H. Hennessy, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc.'s (" J & J") motion to strike answers to the complaint and for entry of default. (Docket #32). No response has been filed, and the time for such filings has since passed. This matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, the motion is ALLOWED.

I. BACKGROUND

J & J filed suit against Defendants Danilo Duarte and Danana, Inc., doing business as La Raza, on November 12, 2013. (Docket #1). Pursuant to contract, J & J was granted the exclusive nationwide commercial distribution (closed-circuit) rights to Tactical Warfare: Manny Pacquiao v. Antonio Margarito, WBC Lightweight Championship Fight Program (the " Program"), telecast nationwide on November 13, 2010. (Id. at ¶ 10). J & J entered into subsequent sublicensing agreements with various commercial entities, including within Massachusetts, granting these entities the right to publicly exhibit the Program within their respective commercial establishments in the hospitality industry. (Id. at ¶ 11). J & J alleges that Defendants unlawfully intercepted, received, published, divulged, displayed, and/or exhibited the Program at their commercial establishment, in violation of 47 U.S.C. § § 605, et seq., and 47 U.S.C. § § 553, et seq. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 13, 16). J & J also asserts the common law tort of conversion, (id. at ¶ ¶ 24-25), and a violation of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A Sections 2 and 11, (id. at ¶ ¶ 26-33). Answers to the complaint were filed on February 11, 2014. (Dockets #7, 8).

A scheduling order was entered on February 28, 2014. Pursuant to the order, initial disclosures were due March 14, 2014, amended pleadings were due by May 1, 2014, discovery was to be completed by June 20, 2014, and dispositive motions were due by September 1, 2014. (Docket #14). The scheduling order also set a case management conference for June 20, 2014. (Id.).

J & J served Defendants with its requests for productions of documents and interrogatories on April 18, 2014. (Docket #34 at ¶ 5). On May 19, 2014, J & J served Defendants with requests for admissions. (Id.).

On June 12, 2014, the parties filed a stipulation and request to reschedule the case management conference due to a conflict with the trial schedule of Attorney Szumowski, J & J's counsel. (Docket #15). The Court granted the motion to continue and rescheduled the case management conference for June 30, 2014. (Docket #16). On June 20, 2014, J & J filed an emergency motion seeking to reschedule the case management conference due to the unavailability of Attorney Szumowski and Attorney Ramsey, Defendant's counsel. (Docket #17). The Court granted the motion (docket #19), and, on July 21, 2014, re-scheduled the case management conference for September 4, 2014 (docket #20). Attorney Ramsey reported a conflict to the Court's Clerk prior to the September 4, 2014 case management conference. (Docket #21).

On September 8, 2014, J & J moved for an order rescheduling the case management conference for 10 a.m. on September 10, 2014, and an award of costs for making the motion. (Id.). In the affidavit accompanying the motion, Attorney Szumowski stated that counsel for the parties conferred by telephone on August 29, 2014 in anticipation of the case management conference on September 4, 2014. (Docket #22 at ¶ 3). During this conference, Attorney Szumowski stated her willingness to report to the Court that, in light of Attorney Ramsey's previous unavailability, a September 18, 2014 deadline for outstanding discovery responses would be agreeable. (Id.). She further related that, on September 4, 2014, she learned from the Court's Clerk that Attorney Ramsey had reported to the Court that he had a conflict with appearing for the case management conference on that date. (Id. at ¶ 4). That same day, Attorney Ramsey telephoned Attorney Szumowski's office to discuss dates and times that were available on the Court's calendar that week. (Id. at ¶ 5). Attorney Ramsey acknowledged that he was to immediately file a motion regarding the rescheduling of the case management conference. (Id.). Attorney Szumowski called Attorney Ramsey on September 5, 2014 and September 8, 2014 to check on the status on the motion but never received a call in return. (Id. at ¶ 6).

The Court granted the motion in part but deferred ruling on the motion as it related to costs. (Docket #23). The case management conference and a hearing on the motion for costs were scheduled for September 10, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. (Docket #24).

On September 10, 2014, after waiting for twenty-three minutes for Attorney Ramsey to appear and after the Courtroom Deputy unsuccessfully attempted to contact him twice by cell phone, the Court called the case. (Docket #25). The Court thereafter issued an order scheduling a further case management conference for September 12, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. which explicitly stated, " Attorney Ramsey is ORDERED to appear in person, and, if he fails to appear, he will face the possibility of sanctions." (Docket #26). The Courtroom Deputy emailed a copy of the order to Attorney Ramsey that day, left him a voicemail, and sent the order to him via mail.

On September 12, 2014, after waiting for seventeen minutes for Attorney Ramsey, the case was called. Attorney Szumowski notified the Court that none of her formal discovery requests had been responded to. She stated that the J & J was amenable to an extension for outstanding discovery requests until September 18, 2014. The next day, the Court entered an order requiring Defendants to respond to all pending discovery requests and fulfill all discovery obligations by September 19, 2014. (Docket #27). The Court also ordered that dispositive motions were to be filed ...


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