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Fanning v. Langenfelder Marine

March 29, 2010

MICHAEL R. FANNING, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE CENTRAL PENSION FUND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LANGENFELDER MARINE, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the Court on plaintiff Michael R. Fanning's motion for summary judgment. After careful review of the parties' papers, the relevant statutory and case law, and the entire record in this case, the Court will grant the plaintiff's motion and enter judgment in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $32,043.13.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Michael R. Fanning is the chief executive officer of the Central Pension Fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers and Participating Employers ("the Central Pension Fund"), a pension benefit plan organized under and governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment ("MSJ") at 2. In 2005 and 2006, defendant Langenfelder Marine, Inc. ("Langenfelder") entered into collective bargaining agreements with local affiliates of the International Union of Operating Engineers. Id. Those agreements obligated Langenfelder to make contributions to the Central Pension Fund. Id.

On December 4, 2007, the Central Pension Fund filed this action, alleging that Langenfelder had failed to pay $101,951.50 in contributions due for the months of April through September 2007. Complaint ¶ 16; Declaration of Michael R. Fanning (attached to MSJ) ("Fanning Decl.") ¶ 7. Langenfelder denied those allegations, see Answer ¶ 16, and on June 23, 2008, the Central Pension Fund filed a motion for summary judgment. Based on the parties' representations that they intended to settle most of the disputed issues raised by the complaint, the Court denied the original motion for summary judgment as moot on March 24, 2009. On March 31, 2009, the parties stipulated that, after the filing of the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, Langenfelder had paid the delinquent contributions owed to the Central Pension Fund. Stipulation ¶ 1. On April 15, 2009, Mr. Fanning filed the currently pending motion for summary judgment, which addresses the only disputed issues remaining in this case: the amount of interest, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees and costs that must be paid to the plaintiff by the defendant. MSJ at 1-2.

II. DISCUSSION

Because Langenfelder has paid to the Central Pension Fund the $101,851.50 owed in delinquent contributions, the plaintiff nows seeks only ancillary relief: $20,390.30 in liquidated damages, MSJ at 4-5; $11,605 in attorneys' fees and costs, id. at 6; and $47.83 in unpaid interest. Id. at 7. Langenfelder does not contest the claim for unpaid interest and concedes that it must pay $8,725 in attorneys' fees and costs to the plaintiff, but contends that it is not obligated to pay liquidated damages or the remaining $2,880 in fees and costs claimed by Mr. Fanning. Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Opp.") at 2.

A. Liquidated Damages

The relevant provision of ERISA states:

In any action under this subchapter by a fiduciary for or on behalf of a plan to [collect delinquent contributions] in which a judgment in favor of the plan is awarded, the court shall award the plan -

....

(C) an amount equal to the greater of -

(i) interest on the unpaid contributions, or

(ii) liquidated damages provided for under the plan in an amount not in ...


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