United States District Court, D. Columbia
November 8, 2005.
JOHN FLYNN, et al., Plaintiffs,
WILLIAMS MASONRY. THOMAS WILLIAMS, SOLE PROPRIETOR, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD LEON, District Judge
Plaintiffs in this action are trustees of the Bricklayers &
Trowel Trades International Pension Fund ("IPF"), an "employee
benefit plan" and "multiemployer plan" within the meaning of the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"),
29 U.S.C. §§ 1002(2), (37). Plaintiffs have brought this action against Thomas
Williams individually, and Williams Masonry (collectively
referred to as "defendants"), seeking to collect employer
contributions owed to the fund by the defendants. The matter is
presently before the Court on plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of
Default Judgment. Upon due consideration of the materials before
the Court and the entire record herein, plaintiffs' motion is
Plaintiffs filed the Complaint in this matter on July 30, 2003.
Defendants were duly served, but they have failed to file a
responsive pleading. As a result, the Clerk of the Court entered
their default on March 31, 2005. Plaintiffs have now moved this
Court to enter a default judgment against the defendants pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2).
A court is empowered to enter a default judgment against a
defendant who fails to defend its case. Keegel v. Key West &
Caribbean Trading Co., 627 F.2d 372, 275 (D.C. Cir. 1980). Rule
55(b)(2) authorizes the Court to enter a default judgment against
the defendant for the amount claimed plus costs. Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(b)(2). While modern courts do not favor default judgments,
they are certainly appropriate "when the adversary process has
been halted because of an essentially unresponsive party."
Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 835-36 (D.C. Cir. 1980).
A default judgment establishes the defaulting party's liability
for the well-plead allegations of the complaint. Adkins v.
Teseo, 180 F. Supp. 2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001). A default judgment,
however, does not automatically establish liability in the amount
claimed by the plaintiff. Shepherd v. Am. Broad. Cos., Inc.,
862 F. Supp. 486, 491 (D.D.C. 1994), vacated on other grounds,
62 F.3d 1469 (D.C. Cir. 1995). "[U]nless the amount of damages is
certain, the court is required to make an independent
determination of the sum to be awarded." Adkins,
180 F. Supp. 2d at 17; Transatlantic Marine Claims Agency, Inc. v. Ace
Shipping Corp., 109 F.3d 105, 111 (2d Cir. 1997) (nothing that
the court may conduct a hearing on the issue of damages pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(b)(2), but it need not do so if there is "a basis
for the damages specified in the default judgment").
The only issue before the Court in this case is the amount of
damages owed by the defendants to the plaintiffs. See Jackson,
636 F.2d at 835 (noting that a default judgment establishes the
defaulting party's liability when the plaintiff presents a prima
facie case to which the defendants are "essentially
unresponsive"). Plaintiffs seek damages in the amount of
$11,795.55. See Mot. Entry Default J., Attach. 2 (David F.
Stuper Decl.) at 8. In support of this figure, plaintiffs have
submitted affidavits from David Stupar, Executive Director of the
pension fund, and from Ira Mitzner, counsel of record for
plaintiffs, each setting forth with specificity the calculations
used to reach this amount. The damage figure provided by
plaintiffs was based on contributions that defendants failed to
submit for work performed pursuant to the collective bargaining
agreement, as well as interest, fees, and costs that the
plaintiff is entitled to collect under ERISA. See ERISA §
502(g)(2)(A) (delinquent contributions); § 502(g)(2)(b)
(interest); § 502(g)(2)(C)(i) (additional interest); §
502(g)(2)(D) (court costs and attorney's fees).
Based upon these affidavits, and the entire record herein, the
Court agrees with the damage calculation submitted by the
plaintiffs. Accordingly, the Court concludes that damages should
be paid to plaintiffs as follows:
$2,106.16 for delinquent contributions payable to
the IPF and the International Union of Bricklayers
and Allied Craftoworkers International Masonry
Institute ("IMI") for work performed in Local 6 OH
and 7 OH;
$3,610.21 for interest payable on the delinquent
contributions due the IPF and IMI, calculated from
the due date at the rate of 15 percent per annum;
$3,610.21 for an additional computation of interest
assessed on delinquent contributions due the IPF and IMI, calculated from
the due date at the rate of 15 percent per annum;
$467.87 for delinquent dues checkoff due the
International Union of Bricklayers and Allied
Craftworkers for work performed in Local 35 PA;
$647.03 for interest assessed on delinquent dues
checkoff at the rate of 15 percent per annum;
$150.00 for the U.S. District Court filing fee;
$187.07 for the service of process fee;
$1,020.00 for attorney's fees.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants the plaintiffs'
Motion for Default Judgment. An order consistent with this
Memorandum Opinion is separately and contemporaneously issued
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