Maryland Restaurant Sued for Alleged Unlawful Showing of Manny Pacquiao Fight

A small Prince George’s County, Maryland, restaurant is facing a hefty lawsuit because of a Manny Pacquiao boxing match.

A California company filed a lawsuit in federal court in Maryland against the El Sitio Restaurant in Riverdale. The company, Campbell, California-based J&J Sports Productions, is seeking between at least $50,000 and $150,000, according to court documents. J&J Sports Productions claims El Sitio restaurant illegally showed a restricted pay-per-view Pacquiao fight to its patrons in December 2012.

J&J Sports Productions said it sent an undercover investigator into El Sitio during the 2012 fight, according to court filings. The company said the investigators witnessed an “unlawful exhibition” of the fight inside the restaurant. The 2012 pay-per-view event was a high-profile match between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Restaurants and taverns must pay a special licensing fee to televise pay-per-view entertainment broadcasts, some boxing events included. In its court filings, J&J Sports Productions alleged El Sitio did not hold the rights to the December 2012 fight.

Media reports and a business owner who spoke with the I-Team said those licenses can cost approximately $3,000 for some events. A review of court records by the I-Team reveals J&J Sports Productions has filed hundreds of lawsuits against small business owners in federal courts since 2009, including about 100 in Maryland. A number of those suits also involved allegations of illegal showings of boxing matches, including those involving Pacquiao.

El Sitio Restaurant has two local locations, in small shopping centers on Piney Branch Road in Silver Spring and Riverdale Road in Riverdale. The Riverdale location is the one named in the federal lawsuit. The I-Team visited each location and noticed fewer than four televisions in each. All of the televisions were small in size, appearing to be less than 32 inches. Seating was limited in each restaurant. One employee said capacity of the Riverdale location was less than 100.

Attorneys for El Sitio declined to comment. J&J Sports Productions staff did not immediately return message for comment.

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