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International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund v. Lasalle Glass & Mirror Co.

April 19, 2010

INTERNATIONAL PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES INDUSTRY PENSION FUND, AND GARY J. MEYERS, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS A FIDUCIARY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LASALLE GLASS & MIRROR CO., D/B/A/ LASALLE GLASS & MIRROR, D/B/A LA SALLE GLASS & MIRROR CO., DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This action is brought by Plaintiffs International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund (the "Fund") and Gary J. Meyers, a fiduciary on behalf of the Fund (collectively, "Plaintiffs") against Defendant LaSalle Glass & Mirror Company for legal and equitable relief under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), as amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980, 29 U.S.C. § 1145. Plaintiffs seek to recover unpaid contributions, liquidated damages, interest, late fees as well as attorneys' fees and costs incurred by the Fund pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(g)(2)(A)-(D) and a collective bargaining agreement entered into under 29 U.S.C. § 185. Although properly and timely served, Defendant have failed to respond to Plaintiffs' lawsuit, and the Clerk of the Court, upon request by Plaintiffs, has since entered default against Defendant. See Clerk's Entry of Default, Docket No. [17]. Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' [18] Motion for Judgment by Default. Having thoroughly considered the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs' submissions and attachments thereto, the applicable case law, statutory authority, and the record of the case as a whole, the Court shall GRANT Plaintiffs' [18] Motion for Judgment by Default, for the reasons stated below.

I. BACKGROUND

The Fund is a trust fund established under 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5), and its Trustees are fiduciaries and plan administrators for the International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Plan ("Pension Plan") and International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Annuity Plan ("Annuity Plan") (collectively, with the Fund, the "ERISA Funds"). Am. Compl. ¶ 4. Both the Pension Plan and the Annuity Plan are multiemployer employee benefit pension plans. Id. ¶¶ 5-6. Plaintiff Meyers is a fiduciary of the ERISA Funds with respect to the collection of contributions due. Id. ¶ 7.

Plaintiffs filed the initial Complaint in the above-captioned matter on July 29, 2009. Defendant failed to answer or otherwise respond to the original Complaint, and the Clerk of the Court entered default against Defendant on October 6, 2009. See Clerk's Entry of Default, Docket No. [5]. Plaintiffs thereafter filed a Motion for Judgment by Default. See Docket No. [7]. However, before the Court had the opportunity to rule on Plaintiffs' Motion for Judgment by Default, Plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew the motion and simultaneously moved to vacate the Clerk's Entry of Default. See Docket Nos. [8] & [9]. The Court granted Plaintiffs' motion and vacated the Entry of Default that had been previously entered against Defendant. See 2/24/10 Min. Order.

Plaintiffs, with leave of the Court, subsequently filed an Amended Complaint on March 10, 2010. See Am. Compl., Docket No. [13]. As set forth therein, Plaintiffs assert that Defendant has entered into a collective bargaining agreement ("Labor Agreement") with the one or more local labor unions or district councils affiliated with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, AFL-CIO, CLC (collectively, the "Union"). Id. ¶ 12 & Ex. 1 (Labor Agreement). Plaintiffs also allege that Defendant has agreed to abide by an Agreement and Declaration of Trust of the Fund ("Trust Agreement") as well as plan documents for the ERISA Funds. Id. ¶ 13 & Ex. 2 (Trust Agreement), Ex. 3 (copy of plan document for the Pension Plan). Under the Labor Agreement, the Trust Agreement, and the plan documents for the ERISA Funds, Defendant agreed to: make certain contributions to the ERISA Funds based on its employees' work; file monthly remittance reports with the ERISA Funds detailing all employees' work for which contributions were required; produce records necessary to permit the ERISA Funds to conduct an audit; and pay certain costs associated with litigation if Defendant failed to comply with its obligations. Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant has failed to make the required monthly payments through January 2010 and that Defendant has otherwise failed to make contributions required under the agreements. Id. ¶¶ 17-38.

Pursuant to the terms of those agreements, Plaintiffs assert that they are therefore entitled to: a monetary award for violation of 29 U.S.C. § 1145 in the amount of the unpaid contributions to the ERISA Funds, liquidated damages, interest on the unpaid contributions and late fees as well as costs, audit expenses, and attorneys' fees (Count I); a monetary award for breach of the Labor Agreement (and its incorporated agreements) in the amount of unpaid contributions owed, including liquidated damages, late fees, interest, costs, and reasonable attorneys' fees (Count II); an audit of Defendant's records to determine the amounts owed (Count III); after an audit, a monetary award for violation of 29 U.S.C. § 1145 in the amount of the contributions found due and owing by the audit, together with late charges, interest, liquidated damages, costs, and fees (Count IV); a monetary award for breach of the Labor Agreement (and its incorporated agreements) for unpaid funds found due and owing by the audit (Count V); and a permanent injunction enjoining Defendant from further violations of the parties' agreements and, in particular, from violating requirements under those agreements providing for the timely filing of remittance reports and timely payment of contributions to the ERISA Funds (Count VI). Id. ¶¶ 17-38.

Plaintiffs, in their instant motion, have moved for default judgment seeking: (1) a judgment for $42,930.15 in unpaid contributions, interest, liquidated damages, late fees, and attorneys' fees and costs; (2) an order declaring that the judgment shall continue to bear interest until the date of actual payment; (3) an order requiring Defendant to provide all outstanding remittance reports with all required information to the Fund and to submit to an audit of its wage, payroll, and personnel records within twenty days of entry of judgment; and (4) an order enjoining Defendant to submit to an audit of its wage, payroll, and personnel records. See Pl.'s Proposed Order.*fn1

Defendant was served with the Amended Complaint on March 10, 2010. See Cert. of Service, Docket No. [14]. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(3), Defendant was required to file an answer or otherwise respond to the Amended Complaint by no later than March 24, 2010. Defendant failed to do so, however, and, at Plaintiffs' request, the Clerk of the Court once again entered default against Defendant on March 29, 2010. See Clerk's Entry of Default, Docket No. [17]. On April 6, 2010, Plaintiffs filed the now-pending Motion for Judgment by Default. See Pl.'s Mot. for Def. J., Docket No. [18]. As of the date of this Memorandum Opinion, Defendant has not entered an appearance nor filed any pleadings in this case.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) provides that the clerk of the court must enter a party's default "[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise." FED. R. CIV. P. 55(a). After a default has been entered by the clerk of the court, a court may enter a default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b). FED. R. CIV. P. 55(b). "The determination of whether default judgment is appropriate is committed to the discretion of the trial court." Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Auxier Drywall, LLC, 531 F. Supp. 2d 56, 57 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 836 (D.C. Cir. 1980)). Upon entry of default by the clerk of the court, the "defaulting defendant is deemed to admit every well-pleaded allegation in the complaint." Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. R.W. Armine Drywall Co., Inc., 239 F. Supp. 2d 26, 30 (D.D.C. 2002) (internal citation omitted). "Although the default establishes a defendant's liability, the court is required to make an independent determination of the sum to be awarded unless the amount of damages is certain." Id. (citing Adkins v. Teseo, 180 F. Supp. 2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001)). Accordingly, when moving for a default judgment, the plaintiff must prove its entitlement to the amount of monetary damages requested. Id. "In ruling on such a motion, the court may rely on detailed affidavits or documentary evidence to determine the appropriate sum for the default judgment." Id.

III. DISCUSSION

Where, as here, there is a complete "absence of any request to set aside the default or suggestion by the defendant that it has a meritorious defense, it is clear that the standard for default judgment has been satisfied." Auxier Drywall, LLC, 531 F. Supp. 2d at 57 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Clerk of the Court entered Defendant's default, and the factual allegations in the Amended Complaint are therefore taken as true. See R.W. Armine Drywall Co., Inc., 239 F. Supp. 2d at 30. The Court finds that Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint sufficiently alleges facts to support their claims. Plaintiffs are thus entitled to default judgment as to Defendant's liability for its failure to timely pay contributions to the ERISA Funds and to timely submit the remittance reports and other documentation, as required under the terms of Labor Agreement, the Trust Agreement, the plan documents for the ERISA ...


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