Friday, May 8–Alleged Internet Pirate Defaults

OCEAN CITY – Citing a lack of any response whatsoever from the defendant in the case, a federal judge this week issued a notice of default against a Gambrills, Md. man accused of pirating thousands of dollars worth of high-speed Internet service for several condominium buildings in Ocean City.

Comcast of the Eastern Shore in March filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking thousands of dollars in lost compensation and other damages against Frank Clark and his fictitious company OceanNet for unauthorized use of the company’s high-speed Internet service for personal gain. The suit alleges Clark purchased service for an individual account, then used a complex network of modems and cables to supply the service to unauthorized third parties within the same condo buildings in Ocean City.

Last week, Comcast filed a motion of default against Clark, effectively asking the court to rule in its favor because the defendant had been served with the summons and complaint and had failed to respond by the stated deadline in the case. This week, a federal court judge formally entered an order of default, essentially ruling in favor of the plaintiff.

“It appears from the records that the summons and complaint were properly served on the defendant and that the time for said defendant to plead or otherwise defend has expired,” the order reads. “Therefore, upon the request of the plaintiff, default is ordered for want of an answer or other defense by the defendant.”

The suit seeks the actual damages Comcast allegedly suffered from the illegal activity along with any additional profit gained by Clark and OceanNet, or, in the alternative, statutory damages between $250 and  $10,000 for each prohibited sale of residential Comcast high-speed Internet service along with enhanced statutory damages of up to $50,000.

The federal suit was filed on March 25, but the deadline for Clark to formally respond to it and file and answer has long since past. The deadline for filing a formal answer was April 14. Clark and his company could be forced to pay the compensation and damages Comcast is seeking without the case going to trial.

“The defendant had 20 days, up to and including April 14, to file an answer or responsive pleading,” the motion filed this week reads. “More than 20 days have elapsed and the defendant has not filed an answer. Pursuant to federal rules, the plaintiff is entitled to an entry of default against Frank Clark individually and OceanNet.”