Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Entertainment & Sports Law
Batiste v. Lewis
Paul Batiste, a local jazz musician, brought a copyright infringement action against the world-famous hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. After the district court found no evidence of copyrighting, it granted summary judgment for defendants and then ordered both Batiste and his attorney to pay defendants' attorneys' fees.The Fifth Circuit held that the district court acted well within its discretion in denying Batiste's motion for leave to supplement his summary-judgment opposition. The court also held that the district court correctly granted summary judgment for defendants on the copyright infringement claims where Batiste failed to produce evidence for a reasonable jury to infer that defendants had access to his music or to find striking similarities between his songs and those of defendants. Therefore, he cannot prove factual copying and his copyright claims fail. The court further held that, given the objective unreasonableness of Batiste's claims, his history of litigation misconduct, and his pattern of filing overaggressive copyright actions, the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding fees to defendants under the Copyright Act. Finally, the court lacked jurisdiction to review Batiste's challenge to the district court's decision to hold his attorney jointly and severally liable for the fee award as a sanction. View "Batiste v. Lewis" on Justia Law
Diece-Lisa Industries, Inc. v. Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Plaintiff appealed the district court's rulings in two consolidated actions alleging that various Disney corporate entities infringed on plaintiff's "Lots of Hugs" trademark by using the "Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear" (aka "Lotso") in the Toy Story 3 movie and in the sale of merchandise.The Fifth Circuit held that plaintiff may obtain review of the adversary interlocutory rulings in its current appeal from the adverse final judgment in case No. 2:14-CV-00070. The court affirmed the district court's conclusion that plaintiff lacked personal jurisdiction over the IP entities, because plaintiff's arguments were based on two novel theories that were without merit. The court set aside the district court's order pertaining to the third amended complaint and remanded, holding that the district court abused its discretion, by sua sponte and without hearing, vacating its order granting plaintiff leave to file the third amended complaint. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's decision striking the fourth amended complaint, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in striking the complaint. View "Diece-Lisa Industries, Inc. v. Disney Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law
NFLPA v. NFL
The NFLPA filed a complaint on behalf of Ezekiel Elliott, a running back for the Dallas Cowboys, seeking a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of a forthcoming six game suspension by the NFL and NFL Management Council. The Commissioner of the NFL determined that domestic violence allegations were substantiated and that Elliott should be suspended for six games. An arbitrator issued a decision upholding the suspension on the same day the district court held a preliminary injunction hearing. The district court then enjoined the NFL from enforcing the suspension. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's preliminary injunction, holding that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction when it issued the preliminary injunction. In this case, when the NFLPA filed the complaint, the arbitrator had not yet issued his decision, and jurisdiction depends on the facts as they exist when the complaint was filed. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions to dismiss the case. View "NFLPA v. NFL" on Justia Law
Ibe v. Jones
Appellants purchased tickets to Super Bowl XLV and were either displaced from their seats, relocated, or had an obstructed view of the field. The majority of the affected ticketholders settled with the NFL. However, appellants in this instance elected to file suit, alleging various claims relating to breach of contract and fraud. Most of appellants’ claims were dismissed before trial, and class certification was denied. Seven individual appellants went to trial against the NFL and prevailed on breach of contract, but not on fraudulent inducement claims. The court concluded that, because appellants have presented no authority supporting that a third-party vendor with limited responsibility is also responsible for the performance of the express ticket terms, appellants’ argument that the Cowboys are liable for their tort claims fails; an inference of fraudulent inducement is untenable; and the economic loss rule bars appellants' claims. The court also concluded that the contract claims failed where the unambiguous term of the contract entitling ticketholders to “a spectator seat for the game” was not breached by an obstructed view of the video board. Furthermore, the fraudulent inducement claims failed because appellants were not fraudulently induced to buy Super Bowl tickets thinking they would see the game on the video board. As to class certification, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to certify the Displaced Class, the Relocated Class, and the Obstructed-View Class. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to give appellants' proposed jury instruction. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ibe v. Jones" on Justia Law
Machete Prod. v. Page
Machete, a film production company, filed suit claiming that a Texas film incentive program was unconstitutional under the First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and Texas Constitution. The district court dismissed all of Machete's claims. The court concluded that Machete lacked standing to pursue its only available federal claim against the director of the Texas Film Commission in her official capacity. The court also concluded that Machete has not shown that it has clearly established that the First Amendment requires a state which has an incentive program like this one to fund films casting the state in a negative light. Consequently, Machete cannot show that Governor Rick Perry’s general counsel, David Morales, violated Machete’s clearly established rights in this context. Machete's due process clause claims are similarly unavailing. Finally, the district court did not err in dismissing Machete's claims under the Texas Constitution because Morales did not forbid Machete from filming, producing, or releasing its movie, but merely opted not to subsidize the film with Texas taxpayer funds. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Machete Prod. v. Page" on Justia Law
Isbell v. DM Records, Inc.
This appeal stemmed from litigation regarding the ownership of the composition copyright to the song Whoomp! (There It Is), writen and produced by Tag Team. The district court concluded that plaintiff owned the copyright and DM Records was liable for copyright infringement, and the jury awarded $2 million in damages. DM Records appealed on several grounds. In regards to DM Record's arguments related to the district court's interpretation of the Recording Agreement as assigning a single fifty percent interest to Alvert Music, the court concluded that none of the pieces of allegedly conflicting evidence cited by DM Records presents a factual issue, and Bellmark Records waived its right to bring a Rule 50(b) motion by not raising its second argument at trial. In regards to DM Records' challenge to the district court's denial of its Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment based on fraud and lack of standing, DM Records is not entitled to Rule 60(b) relief on the basis of the allegedly withheld Security Agreement because standing is determined at the time of suit and the 2006 Security Agreement does not establish that plaintiff did not own the copyright in 2002 when he commenced the suit. The court also concluded that the district court did not plainly err in instructing the jury and that the jury could have determined that plaintiff was properly awarded 100 percent of the royalties from which it could pay Tag Team its share. Finally, it was not plain error for the district court to allow plaintiff's closing statement and not to grant DM's motion for a new trial. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Isbell v. DM Records, Inc." on Justia Law
Marucci Sports, L.L.C. v. Nat’l Collegiate Athl. Assn., et al.
Plaintiff, a baseball bat manufacturer, filed an antitrust suit against the NCAA and the NFHS, alleging that they imposed a regulation, the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution Standard (BBCOR), that restrained trade in the market for non-wood baseball bats. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege a conspiracy under section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1; the only plausible injury asserted was its own and only injuries to the markets were cognizable; and therefore, plaintiff did not state a claim upon which relief could be granted and the district court properly dismissed its Sherman Act claim. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's motion to amend where two prior amendments were granted and allowing a third would be futile. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Second Amended Complaint and affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to amend. View "Marucci Sports, L.L.C. v. Nat'l Collegiate Athl. Assn., et al." on Justia Law