Waggoner, 649 F.2d at 1368. Moreover, even if such knowledge could be imputed to the Fund, plaintiffs cannot be charged, as a matter of law, with a failure to exercise due diligence in following up on that lead. As plaintiffs note, the Fund serves 510 locals and some 2,200 participants. It is simply not reasonable to suggest that Fund officials should have tracked down Mr. Gaiser based upon such scanty and misleading information. See Hobson, 737 F.2d at 35 n.107 (plaintiff need only exercise reasonable diligence).
Accordingly, the Magistrate's conclusion that issues of fact remain regarding plaintiffs' notice and due diligence is reversed. Summary judgment is thus appropriate for plaintiffs on their tolling claim.
B. Liability on the Underlying Claim
On appeal, defendant renews its arguments that it was not bound to make contributions on behalf of Mr. Gaiser, under the terms of the United Association Constitution. As the Magistrate correctly concluded, however, defendant's assertions are simply untenable.
Defendant argues that as a local, under the Constitution, it was not obligated to pay for Mr. Gaiser's pension, regardless of whether the Fund was required to provide such pension. Such an interpretation of the Constitution and of the operation of the Fund stands well outside the bounds of reasonableness. Section 41(b) of the Constitution explicitly provides that the Fund is entitled to levy upon the local unions to defray the costs of pensions for those employees who are eligible, under the terms established by the Fund officers. Defendant's bald assertion to the contrary is wholly without merit.
Defendant further contends that, because Section 41(b) establishes the Fund for the benefit of "full-time, salaried officers and employees," contributions on behalf of Mr. Gaiser were not required. Defendant maintains that it was bound only by the Constitution, and not by the Trust Agreement, which establishes eligibility requirements. Yet Section 41(b) expressly delegates to the Fund officers the authority to set the terms and conditions of the Fund. This they have done, providing in the Trust Agreement that all officers, whether elected or appointed, or employees who receive more than $2,000 from a local, apart from any remuneration from other sources, are covered under the Fund. Defendant's vain attempts to distinguish the eligibility of "appointed" as opposed to "elected" officers, or "salaried" employees from wage-earners is to no avail. The controlling instrument clearly provides that an employee such as Mr. Gaiser is eligible for coverage under the Fund.
Accordingly, the Magistrate's conclusion that summary judgment for plaintiffs' is appropriate as to the merits of their claim is affirmed.
As set forth above, the Magistrate's findings are affirmed insofar as they support summary judgment for plaintiffs and reversed insofar as they suggest otherwise. Accordingly, an appropriate Order will be entered providing plaintiffs with access to the documents and records necessary to brief the issue of damages. The amount of damages owed plaintiffs, as well as their entitlement to attorneys' fees and costs, shall be dealt with in appropriate post-judgment proceedings.
Entered: July 31, 1986
Barrington D. Parker
United States District Judge [EDITOR'S NOTE: The following court-provided text does not appear at this cite in 641 F. Supp.]
In accordance with the Memorandum Opinion issued herewith, it is this 31st day of July, 1986,
That the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate, dated August 9, 1985, is affirmed in part and reversed in part as specified in the accompanying Memorandum Opinion;
That summary judgment is entered for plaintiffs on their claim that the statute of limitations should be tolled and their claim that defendant has failed and refused to submit contribution reports and payments in accordance with the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"). The plaintiffs are granted judgment on the issue of liability under the requirements of the ERISA.
That this proceeding is remanded to Magistrate Jean F. Dwyer for purposes of conducting all hearings necessary to determine the extent of relief that the plaintiffs are entitled to under the relevant provisions of the ERISA.
That the Magistrate shall submit a report and recommendation to this Court by October 1, 1986.
Barrington D. Parker
United States District Judge