Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund v. Design Technologies

November 5, 2008

INTERNATIONAL PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES INDUSTRY PENSION FUND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DESIGN TECHNOLOGIES AND VINCENT ZAPPOLA, INDIVIDUALLY AND D/B/A DESIGN TECHNOLOGIES DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund (the "Fund" or "Plaintiff") brought this action to collect payments owed by Defendants, Design Technologies and Vincent Zappola. Having received no response from Defendants to the instant lawsuit, Plaintiff moved for default judgment against Defendants for unpaid contributions, liquidated damages, interest, late charges, and attorney's fees and costs, as well for injunctive relief. The Court granted Plaintiff's motion for default judgment, but reserved on the issue of Plaintiff's request for attorney's fees and costs. Plaintiff's supporting documentation appeared to indicate that the total amount of attorney's fees requested by Plaintiff in its motion for default judgment included not only fees incurred in connection with the instant matter, but also fees associated with an earlier lawsuit. The Court therefore required Plaintiff to submit additional information to the Court regarding its request for attorney's fees. Plaintiff, however, failed to timely file the required information. Having heard no further from Plaintiff, despite the passing of the deadline for submission of Plaintiff's response, the Court subsequently denied Plaintiff's motion for default judgment insofar as it requested attorney's fees and costs.

Currently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of Order of May 16, 2008 Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Default with Respect to Attorney's Fees ("Pl.'s Mot."). See Docket No. [16]. After a thorough review of Plaintiff's motion and the applicable case law, the Court shall deny Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration for the reasons that follow.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed its complaint in the instant matter on June 25, 2007, alleging that Defendants had failed to pay the Fund amounts due under Defendants' union contracts and other related agreements. See Complaint ("Compl."), Docket No. [1], ¶¶ 12-18, 27-33. Plaintiff also alleged that Defendants had not permitted the Fund to audit Defendants' books and records and had failed to file monthly remittance reports, as required under the terms of the parties' agreements and the applicable law. Id. ¶¶ 19-26. As set forth in the complaint, Plaintiff sought an award of unpaid contributions, liquidated damages, interest, late charges, and attorney's fees and costs, as well injunctive relief against Defendants. See id. ¶¶ 12-37.

The complaint was served on Defendants on August 28, 2008. See Return of Service/Affidavit of Summons and Complaint Executed as to Design Technologies, Docket No. [5]; Return of Service/Affidavit of Summons and Complaint Executed as to Vincent Zappola, Docket No. [6]. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12, Defendants were required to serve an answer by September 17, 2007. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(a)(1)(A)(i) (requiring defendant serve an answer withing twenty days after being served with the summons and complaint). Having received no response from Defendants, the Clerk of the Court entered default against Defendants on September 18, 2007, upon motion by Plaintiff. See Clerk's Entry of Default, Docket No. [8]. Defendants did not file any response to the entry of default. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for default judgment against Defendants. See Plaintiff's Motion for Entry of Default Judgment ("Pl.'s Mot. for Def. J."), Docket No. [9]. Specifically, Plaintiff sought an order of default judgment against Defendants for: (a) unpaid contributions in the amount of $68,372.37; (b) interest on the delinquent contributions in the amount of $7,034.39; (c) late charges on the delinquent contributions in the amount of $3,431.88; (d) liquidated damages totaling $16,804.77; (e) attorney's fees and costs in the amount of $31,877.99; (f) injunctive relief restraining Defendants from refusing to file remittance statements and to permit audits of Defendants' book and records; and (g) an order requiring Defendants to produce its records for an audit. Id. at 4-9.

On April 24, 2008, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion for default judgment against Defendants, but reserved on Plaintiff's request for attorney's fees. See Order, April 24, 2008, Docket No. [13] ("April 24, 2008 Order"). By minute order dated the same day, the Court advised Plaintiff that it had reviewed Plaintiff's request for attorney's fees, as set forth in its motion for default judgment, and determined that the total amount of attorney's fees requested by Plaintiff appeared to include both fees associated with the instant lawsuit as well as fees associated with an earlier lawsuit brought by Plaintiff against Defendants. See Minute Order, Apr. 24, 2008 ("April 24, 2008 Minute Order"). The Court further noted that the latter claim for attorney's fees did not appear to be included in Plaintiff's complaint in this case, and that Plaintiff had not precisely broken out the attorney's fees associated with litigating the instant lawsuit. Id. The Court therefore ordered Plaintiff to submit to the Court a list of the fees associated with litigating the instant case and-in the event that Plaintiff believed it was entitled to attorney's fees in connection with its efforts in the previous lawsuit-legal authority in support of that claim. Id. Plaintiff failed to do so by the deadline set by the Court, May 8, 2008. See May 16, 2008 Order, Docket No. [14] ("May 16, 2008 Order"). Accordingly, the Court issued an order, on May 16, 2008, denying Plaintiff's motion for default judgment insofar as it requested attorney's fees. See id.

On May 29, 2008, Plaintiff filed the current motion for reconsideration of the May 16, 2008 Order, which denied Plaintiff's motion for default judgment with respect to its request for attorney's fees. See Pl.'s Mot. In its motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff acknowledges that it failed to timely respond to the April 24, 2008 Minute Order requiring Plaintiff to provide additional information to the Court as to Plaintiff's request for attorney's fees. See Pl.'s Mot., Att. 2 (Memorandum in Support ("Pl.'s Memo.")) at 2. Plaintiff explained that its failure to do so was "not intentional and was occasioned by a period of staff changes and backlog that unfortunately led two busy reviewers to rely on the other and miss the email notice [of the April 24, 2008 Minute Order]." Id.

In its motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff also belatedly provides the Court with the requested information concerning Plaintiff's request for attorney's fees. See id. at 6. As the additional detail shows, Plaintiff had in fact erroneously included, in its original request for attorney's fees and costs,fees incurred in connection with matters not clearly raised in the complaint in this case. Pl.'s Mot. at 2. Specifically, Plaintiff explains that, of the $31,877.99 originally requested for attorney's fees and costs, only $7,418.15 is directly associated with litigation of the case at hand. Id. at 4. The remaining amounts are attributable to work done in connection with an earlier lawsuit as well as previous efforts to audit Defendants' books and records. Id. at 4. Recognizing that the latter amounts had not been included in the complaint in this case, Plaintiff states that it now seeks an award only as to the $7,418.15 in attorney's fees incurred in connection with this lawsuit and that the Fund withdraws any requests for other fees. Id.

Plaintiff appears to primarily argue that the Court should grant its motion for reconsideration because a denial of attorney's fees in this case "may substantially or entirely eviscerate the current judgment, reward Defendants for their own default and deny the Court's judgment the respect it is due." See Pl.'s Memo. at 2-3. The Fund asserts that it has not yet been able to obtain an audit of Defendants' books and records, despite court orders. Id. Given Defendants' history of non-compliance with both their own labor and related agreements as well as court orders, Plaintiff contends that the denial of attorney's fees "will primarily reward a non-compliant Defendant and encourage contempt and disregard of the Court's judgment in this case." Id. at 2-3, 5. Accordingly, Plaintiff argues that the "interests of justice" favor reconsideration of the May 16, 2008 Order denying Plaintiff's motion for default judgment insofar as it requested attorney's fees. Id. at 2-3.

In its motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff also expresses concern that the May 16, 2008 Order "may preclude [Plaintiff] from recovering, not only fee and costs to date, but also additional fees and costs incurred in enforcing the Court's current judgment." Pl.'s Mot. at 3. Plaintiff therefore requests that the Court alter the May 16, 2008 Order to explicitly hold that the Fund is permitted to seek recovery of any additional attorney's fees and costs that may be incurred in the future by Plaintiff in enforcing the Court's judgment against Defendants. Id. at 4.

In the alternative, the Fund requests that-in the event the Court denies its request to reconsider the May 16, 2008 Order-the Court clarify that the May 16, 2008 Order is limited to a denial of attorney's fees and costs in this case only, and is not intended to preclude the Fund from collecting attorney's fees and costs associated with other judicial proceedings.*fn1 Id. at 6-7.

Specifically, Plaintiff seeks clarification that the May 16, 2008 Order is not intended to "impair enforcement" of either: (a) a default judgment awarded to the Fund on May 21, 2005 by Judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an action captioned International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund, et al. v. Design Technologies, et al., Civ No. 04-1942 (RJL), id. at 5, 6-7; see also id., Att. 4 (Exhibit 1); or (b) a joint stipulation between the Fund and Defendants, executed on November 21, 2005, in which ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.