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Shive v. J&C Baseball Clubhouse, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

April 12, 2018

JAMES SHIVE, Plaintiff,
v.
J&C BASEBALL CLUBHOUSE, INC., Defendant.

          James Shive Rio Rancho, New Mexico Plaintiff pro se

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Magistrate Judge's Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition, filed March 5, 2018 (Doc. 101)(“PFRD”). The Court has reviewed the Honorable Jerry Ritter, United States Magistrate Judge's PFRD, the parties have not objected to it, and the Court concludes that the PFRD is not clearly erroneous, arbitrary, obviously contrary to law, or an abuse of discretion. The Court therefore adopts the PFRD and enters judgment in Plaintiff James Shive's favor against Defendant J&C Baseball Clubhouse, Inc.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 28, 2017, the Clerk of the Court entered a default against J&C Baseball. See Clerk's Entry of Default at 1, filed June 28, 2017 (Doc. 76). On August 25, 2017, the Honorable William P. Lynch, United States Magistrate Judge, recommended that the Court enter default judgment against J&C Baseball. See Second Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition at 8, filed August 25, 2017 (Doc. 79). The Court adopted Magistrate Judge Lynch's recommendation. See Memorandum Opinion and Order Adopting the Magistrate Judge's Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition, and Setting this Matter for a Damages Hearing at 16, filed October 12, 2017 (Doc. 82)(“MOO”). The Court concurrently referred this case to Magistrate Judge Ritter to conduct a jury trial on the question of damages. See MOO at 16. J&C Baseball did not retain counsel or otherwise enter an appearance in this case.

         Magistrate Judge Ritter held a jury trial on February 22, 2018. See Clerk's Minutes Jury Trial Before Magistrate Judge Jerry Ritter at 1, filed February 22, 2018 (Doc. 95)(“Clerk's Minutes”). The jury returned a verdict in Shive's favor for $36, 500.00 in compensatory damages and $150, 000.00 in statutory damages. See Verdict Form at 1, filed February 22, 2018 (Doc. 99). Shive elected to recover the statutory damages that the jury awarded. See Clerk's Minutes at 3.

         On March 5, 2018, Magistrate Judge Ritter entered his PFRD, in which he recommends that the Court adopt the jury's award of statutory damages and enter judgment in Shive's favor for the amount of $150, 000.00. See PFRD at 4. Magistrate Judge Ritter further recommends that Shive be permitted to seek attorney fees and costs following the entry of judgment as 17 U.S.C. § 505 and applicable law provide, as well as post-judgment interest as 28 U.S.C. § 1961 provides. See PFRD at 4-5. J&C Baseball never appeared or objected to the PFRD.

         LAW REGARDING JURY TRIALS

         The Seventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America provides that,

[i]n Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

U.S. Const. amend. VII. Accordingly, a trial court must defer to the jury's fact-finding function, which encompasses the amount of compensatory damages and statutory damages in a copyright infringement case. See Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc., 523 U.S. 340, 353 (1998)(“The right to a jury trial includes the right to have a jury determine the amount of statutory damages, if any, awarded to the copyright owner.”)(emphasis in original). “[A]bsent an award so excessive or inadequate as to shock the judicial conscience and raise an irresistible inference that passion, prejudice or another improper cause invaded the trial, the jury's determination of the amount of damages is inviolate.” Dodoo v. Seagate Tech., Inc., 235 F.3d 522, 531 (10th Cir. 2000). This rule exists because “a jury's damages award is highly specific to the facts and circumstances of the case.” Evans v. Fogarty, 241 Fed.Appx. 542, 562 (10th Cir. 2007)(unpublished).[1]

         LAW REGARDING OBJECTIONS TO PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

         District courts may refer dispositive matters to a Magistrate Judge for a recommended disposition. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1)(“A magistrate judge must promptly conduct the required proceedings when assigned, without the parties' consent, to hear a pretrial matter dispositive of a claim or defense . . . .”). Rule 72(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs objections: “Within 14 days after being served with a copy of the recommended disposition, a party may serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Finally, when resolving objections to a Magistrate Judge's proposal, “[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). Similarly, 28 U.S.C. § 636 provides:

A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The judge may also receive ...

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