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COMBS v. ADKINS & ADKINS COAL CO.

October 19, 1984

Harrison COMBS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ADKINS & ADKINS COAL CO., INC., et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER

 BARRINGTON D. PARKER, District Judge:

 This matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, to transfer, filed by the defendants, and the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment asserting the defendants' liability to the plaintiffs for contributions due under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA").

 The plaintiffs, trustees of the United Mine Workers of America's ("UMWA") 1950 and 1974 Pension Plans ("Plans" or "Fund") have brought suit under ERISA, as amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 ("MPPAA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. As sponsors of the Plans, the plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that the defendants have ceased to make contributions to the Plans, 29 U.S.C. § 1383(a), and request payment of contributions equaling approximately $50,000, together with the liquidated damages and interest which are authorized by statute.

 Defendants Phillip and Earl Adkins operate a coal mining business in Kentucky. When the Adkins' business operated as the Adkins & Adkins Coal Company, Inc. ("Adkins & Adkins"), the company was a signatory to the National Coal Mine Construction Agreements of 1978 and 1981, which required it to contribute to the Plans. Subsequently, the business operated by the Adkins brothers has also been known as the A & A Coal Company and the P & E Coal Company, Inc. For purposes of this Memorandum Opinion, the above entities are collectively referred to as the defendants.

 The two pending motions present three issues for the Court's consideration: first, whether venue lies in the District of Columbia; second, whether this Court has personal jurisdiction over the defendants; and third, whether the defendants have withdrawn from a multiemployer pension plan within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 1398. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the defendants' motion to dismiss or transfer, and grants summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.

 A.

 Venue and Personal Jurisdiction

 The Trustees are authorized to bring this action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(a)(3) and 1451(a)(1). In actions "to compel an employer to pay withdrawal liability" or "to collect withdrawal liability," 29 U.S.C. § 1451(b), (c), venue and service of process are governed by 29 U.S.C. § 1451(d). That section provides that:

 
an action . . . may be brought in the district where the plan is administered or where the defendant resides or does business, and process may be served in any district where a defendant resides, does business, or may be found.

 Similar venue and service of process provisions are provided in 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(2), which permits actions by plan fiduciaries to enforce ERISA liability. See Combs v. Pelbro Fuel, Inc., 4 E.B.C. 2610, 2611 (D.D.C.1983). Since the 1950 and 1974 pension plans are administered in the District of Columbia, venue lies in this District within the plain meaning of sections 1451(d) and 1132(e)(2).

 Moreover, this Court possesses personal jurisdiction over the defendants, who reside in Kentucky. Where Congress has authorized nationwide service of process, a federal court may exercise personal jurisdiction over any United States resident, without regard to whether its sister state court could assert jurisdiction under minimum contacts principles. Briggs v. Goodwin, 186 U.S. App. D.C. 170, 569 F.2d 1, 8-10 (D.C.Cir.1977) (interpreting similar provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e)), rev'd on other grounds sub nom. Stafford v. Briggs, 444 U.S. 527, 100 S. Ct. 774, 63 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1980); Combs v. Pelbro Fuel, Inc., 4 E.B.C. at 2611 (District Court for the District of Columbia asserted jurisdiction over defendant Pennsylvania corporation in ERISA case). Here, the defendants' status as United States residents is not disputed, and this Court may assert personal jurisdiction over them.

 This finding also disposes of the defendants' contentions with respect to service of process. The validity of service in this case depends on the defendants' "contacts with the district of service," I.A.M. National Pension Fund, Benefit Plan A v. Wakefield Industries, Inc., 226 U.S. App. D.C. 102, 699 F.2d 1254, 1258 (D.C.Cir.1983), and not, as the defendants contend, on their contacts with the District of Columbia. The Congress may constitutionally authorize extraterritorial service of process, see Briggs v. Goodwin, 569 F.2d at 8, as done here. The defendants do not dispute that they have sufficient contacts with Kentucky, the district of service. Accordingly, the defendants' motion to dismiss must be denied.

 This Court also declines to disturb the plaintiffs' choice of forum by transferring this action to Kentucky under the doctrine of forum non conveniens or pursuant to its discretion under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). *fn1" Numerous decisions of this Court have denied similar motions filed by nonresident defendants in other ERISA cases. See, e.g., Combs v. Pelbro Fuel, 4 E.B.C. 2610 at 2612-13; Combs v. Rawhide Coal Co., No. 83-2045 (D.D.C. Nov. 16, 1983); Combs v. Garin Trucking Co., No. 83-3651 (D.D.C. May 21, 1984), appeal docketed, No. 84-5343 (D.C.Cir. May 31, 1984). The defendants were ...


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