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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. C.J.'S Sports Bar, LLP

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 16, 2014

C.J.'S SPORTS BAR, LLP, and LARRY DEANE COWDEN and DOROTHY GAIL COWDEN, as General Partners, Defendants.


PHILIP A. BRIMMER, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss [Docket No. 5] filed by defendants C.J.'s Sports Bar, LLP ("C.J.'s"), Larry Deane Cowden, and Dorothy Gail Cowden. The Court's jurisdiction is based on 28 U.S.C. § 1331.


Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. ("Joe Hand") sets forth the following factual allegations in its complaint. Docket No. 3. The Cowdens are the general partners of C.J.'s. Id. at 4, ¶ 4. Joe Hand is a commercial distributor of sports programming. Id. at 5, ¶ 8. Joe Hand spends substantial sums of money on marketing, advertising, promoting, administering, and transmitting sports programming to the broadcasting entities. Id.

Joe Hand owns the exclusive national television distribution rights to the "Ultimate Fighting Championship 134: Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami, " which took place on August 27, 2011. Id. at 5, ¶ 6. Defendants showed the Silva vs. Okami fight in real time at C.J.'s, despite their knowledge that they were unauthorized to do so. Id. at 5, ¶ 9.

On August 16, 2013, Joe Hand filed a complaint against defendants in the District Court for the County of El Paso, Colorado, asserting violations of 47 U.S.C. §§ 553 and 605 and state law conversion. Docket No. 3 at 4-6. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and statutory damages, attorney's fees, and costs. Id. at 6-7. On September 4, 2013, defendants removed the matter to this Court. Docket No. 1. On September 6, 2013, defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss. Docket No. 5.


The Court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's complaint alone is sufficient to plausibly state a claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Dubbs v. Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194, 1201 (10th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). In doing so, the Court "must accept all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and must construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Alvarado v. KOB-TV, LLC, 493 F.3d 1210, 1215 (10th Cir. 2007) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

The "plausibility" standard requires that relief must plausibly follow from the facts alleged, not that the facts themselves be plausible. Bryson v. Gonzales, 534 F.3d 1282, 1286 (10th Cir. 2008). However, "where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (internal quotation marks and alteration marks omitted).


A. Federal Claims

Defendants argue that plaintiff's claims are time barred by the applicable one-year statute of limitations. Docket No. 5.

Section 553 of Title 47 prohibits the "[u]nauthorized interception or receipt" of "any communications service offered over a cable system." 47 U.S.C. § 553(a)(1). Section 605 of Title 47 prohibits the unauthorized publication of "any interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio." 47 U.S.C. § 605(a). Neither statute contains a statute of limitations. When a federal statute does not supply a limitations period, courts "generally borrow' the most closely analogous state limitations period." Graham County Soil & Water Conservation Dist. v. United States ex rel. Wilson, 545 U.S. 409, 414 (2005). Under a "closely circumscribed... [and] narrow exception to the general rule, " courts will look instead to analogous federal law when the state limitations period would "frustrate or interfere with the implementation of national policies" or "be at odds with the purpose or operation of federal substantive law." North Star Steel Co. v. Thomas, 515 U.S. 29, 33-34 (1995) (citations and quotation marks omitted); see also Barnett v. United Air Lines, Inc., 738 F.2d 358, 363 (10th Cir. 1984) ("if another relevant federal statute exists that clearly reflects the interests Congress intended to protect under the federal statute in question, we must apply it") (emphasis in original).

In deciding which limitations period to borrow, courts look for a state statute that is "actually designed to accommodate a balance of interests very similar" to that struck by the federal law at issue. DelCostello v. Int'l Brotherhood of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 169 (1983). Factors relevant to this determination include "commonality of purpose and similarity of ...

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