The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge
GRANTING THE PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR DEFAULT
As noted, the Pension Fund is a multi-employer employee pension plan
governed by ERISA. Stupar Decl. ¶ 2. The collective bargaining agreements
between the defendant and the Union authorize the Pension Fund to provide
retirement income to the defendant's employees. Id. ¶ 3. Toward that
end, the collective bargaining agreements require the defendant to submit
monthly remittance reports to the Pension Fund describing the work
performed by employees. Id. ¶¶ 5, 7. The agreements further require the
defendant to submit monthly pension and benefit contributions or dues
checkoff*fn1 to the Pension Fund on behalf of its employees. Id. If the
defendant fails to comply with the collective bargaining agreements, the
plaintiffs have a fiduciary duty under ERISA to collect the delinquent
employer contributions. Id. ¶ 3.
During the August, November, and December 2001, and January through
June 2002, the defendant failed to submit to the Pension Fund the
required remittance reports, pension and benefit contributions, and dues
checkoff for its employees. Id. ¶¶ 9-18, 27. The defendant owes
$61,067.86 in unpaid pension and benefit contributions and dues checkoff
for that period. Mitzner Decl. ¶ 4.
Turning to the procedural history of this case, on May 10, 2002, the
plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging the defendant's failure to submit
remittance reports, pension and benefit contributions, and dues checkoff
to the Pension Fund as required by the collective bargaining agreements.
Compl. ¶¶ 7-10. The plaintiffs' complaint requests relief, pursuant to
ERISA, for these and any subsequent violations of the collective
bargaining agreements. Id. at 4-6. On May 22, 2002, the plaintiffs
executed service of a summons and the complaint on the defendant. Decl.
of Serv. The record reflects that the defendant has not filed an answer
to the plaintiffs' complaint. Consequently, on July 2, 2002 the
plaintiffs filed an affidavit in support of default, and on July 3, 2002
the clerk of the court entered default for the plaintiffs.
On August 19, 2002, the plaintiffs filed a motion for entry of default
judgment. As anticipated in the complaint, the plaintiffs modified the
damages claim in the complaint to include delinquent contributions and
interest that accrued subsequent to the filing of the complaint. Compl.
at 6; Mot. for Default J. at 2.
The plaintiffs' motion for default judgment first requests $61,067.86
for unpaid pension and benefit contributions and dues checkoff owed to
the Pension Fund for August, November, and December 2001,
through June 2002. Mitzner Decl. ¶ 4. Second, the plaintiffs move for
$3,078.92 for interest assessed on the delinquent contributions and dues
checkoff, calculated from the due date through August 8, 2002. Id.
Third, the plaintiffs argue for $9,951.13 in liquidated damages,
calculated at a rate of 20 percent of the unpaid contributions. Id.
Fourth, the plaintiffs seek attorney's fees and costs in the following
amounts: $157.75 for service, $150.00 for filing, $895.00 for attorney's
fees, and $700.00 for anticipated future attorney's fees (four attorney
hours) for executing the judgment. Id. ¶¶ 5-6.
On October 16, 2002, the court issued a final order instructing the
defendant to show cause on or before October 25, 2002 as to why the court
should not enter default judgment. The court instructed that "failure to
respond to this order may result in the entry of default judgment in
favor of the plaintiffs." The deadline for the response has come and
gone. The record reflects that the defendant still has not responded to
the court's show cause order.
A. Legal Standard for Default Judgment Pursuant to ERISA
Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for entry
of default "[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief
is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend." FED R. CIV. P.
55(a). Upon request of the plaintiffs and an affadavit regarding the
amount due, Rule 55(b) authorizes the clerk or court (depending on the
circumstances) to enter against the defendant a default judgment for the
amount claimed and costs. FED R. CIV. P. 55(b). Just as a court can
dismiss a case when faced with dilatory tactics by the plaintiffs, a
court has the discretion to enter default ...