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DIRECTV, Inc. v. Gaurmer

January 26, 2006

DIRECTV, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LYLE GAURMER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert E. Blackburn

ORDER RE: DIRECTV'S MOTION FOR RELIEF ON ITS FIRST AND SECOND CLAIMS

The matter before me is DIRECTV's Motion for Relief On Its First and Second Claims [#64], filed March 14, 2005. By this motion, plaintiff requests that I award it statutory damages, attorney's fees and costs, and permanent injunctive relief against the sole remaining defendant in this lawsuit, Lyle Gaurmer. I grant the motion in part and deny it in part.

On July 20, 2004, I granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to its first and second claims for relief. (See Order Granting DIRECTV's Motion for Summary Judgment [#60], filed July 20, 2004.)*fn1 I thereby found that defendant had violated the Federal Communications Act ("FCA"), 47 U.S.C. § 605(a), and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act ("ECPA"), 18 U.S.C. § 2511(1)(a), by intercepting plaintiff's satellite television programming without authorization. A party who proves a violation of the ECPA is entitled to recover "(1) such preliminary and other equitable or declaratory relief as may be appropriate; (2) damages under subsection (c) and punitive damages in appropriate cases; and (3) a reasonable attorney's fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred." 18 U.S.C. § 2520(b). Plaintiff here seeks all three forms of relief.

With respect to damages, the ECPA provides that "the court may assess as damages whichever is the greater of --

(A) the sum of the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff and any profits made by the violator as a result of the violation; or

(B) statutory damages of whichever is the greater of $100 a day for each day of violation or $10,000.

Id., § 2520(c)(2)(B).*fn2 Plaintiff here requests only statutory damages. The evidence shows that Gaurmer had the ability to pirate plaintiff's satellite signals for a period of 257 days, from May 21, 2001, to February 2, 2002. Plaintiff, however, requests only $10,000 in statutory damages. An award in that amount is entirely appropriate, and plaintiff's motion on that basis will be granted.

Plaintiff also requests the entry of a permanent injunction against Gaurmer to prevent him from engaging in future violations of plaintiff's rights in its encrypted satellite transmissions. Because there is no evidence that Gaurmer has relinquished the pirating devices that allowed him to illegally intercept plaintiff's satellite signals, I find that plaintiff is entitled to have Gaurmer enjoined from further use of those devices, or otherwise from continuing to illegally intercept plaintiff's encrypted satellite programming without proper authorization.*fn3

Finally, plaintiff requests attorney's fees of $850 and costs of $180 incurred in prosecuting this suit. Although the statute contemplates an award of attorney's fees and costs, plaintiff has presented no evidence in support of its request for an award of such amounts. I therefore have no basis on which to determine that the requested fees and costs are "reasonable," as required by the ECPA. See 18 U.S.C. § 2520(b)(3). However, plaintiff is entitled to its costs pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1) in any event, and thus may attempt to recoup such costs as are recoverable pursuant to that rule by timely submitting a Bill of Costs to the Clerk of the Court.

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED as follows:

1. That DIRECTV's Motion for Relief On Its First and Second Claims [#64], filed March 14, 2005, is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART;

2. That the motion is GRANTED with respect to plaintiff's request for statutory damages;

3. That the motion is further GRANTED with respect to plaintiff's request for the entry of a permanent injunction ...


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