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Flynn v. Old World Plaster

October 4, 2010

JOHN FLYNN ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
OLD WORLD PLASTER, LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document No.: 6

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE PLAINTIFFS'MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the plaintiffs' motion for entry of default judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2). The plaintiffs are the fiduciaries of the Bricklayers and Trowel Trades International Pension Fund and the International Masonry Institute (collectively, "the Plans"), which are "employee benefit plans" and "multiemployer plans" within the meaning of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq. The plaintiffs commenced this action on February 26, 2009, alleging that the defendant failed to make contributions to the Plans as required by ERISA and the applicable collective bargaining agreements. The plaintiffs served the defendant with a copy of the complaint on April 29, 2009. To date, the defendant has not responded to the complaint or otherwise participated in this action. As a result, the court grants the plaintiffs' motion for default judgment and awards them $252,058.66 in damages.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The complaint states that representatives of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen and its affiliated local unions entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the defendant. Compl. ¶ 8. Pursuant to the agreement, the defendant was required to provide monthly reports to the plaintiffs' representatives and remit regular contributions to the Plans based on the number of hours worked by the defendant's unionized employees. Id. ¶ 9; see generally Compl., Ex. A ("CBA"). The plaintiffs assert that the defendant failed to make monthly payments to the Plans, in violation of the collective bargaining agreement and ERISA. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 11, 14.

The plaintiffs allege that an independent accounting firm performed an audit of the defendant's books and records and determined that during the period from January 2003 through December 2004,*fn1 the defendant failed to submit the required reports and contributions to the Plans. Id. ¶ 11. According to the plaintiffs, the unpaid contributions for this period total $12,983.99. Id. ¶ 12. The plaintiffs further allege that although the defendant did provide monthly reports for May 2006 and February 2007 through April 2008, it failed to make $123,213.72 in required contributions for those months. Id. ¶¶ 14-15.

On February 26, 2009, the plaintiffs initiated this action to recover delinquent contributions to the Plans. See generally id. The plaintiffs also seek interest on the delinquent contributions, liquidated damages, attorney's fees and costs. Id. ¶¶ 18-19.

On April 29, 2009, the plaintiffs served the defendant with the summons and complaint. Pls.' Aff. of Service. After the defendant failed to submit a timely response to the complaint, the Clerk of the Court entered default against the defendant on June 10, 2009. Entry of Default. Consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55, the plaintiffs then filed this motion for default judgment on May 21, 2010. See generally Pls.' Mot. Throughout this period, the defendant has not pleaded or otherwise defended itself against this action.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Entry of Default Judgment Under Rule 55(b)(2)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 specifies a two-step process for a party seeking to obtain a default judgment. First, the plaintiff must request that the Clerk of the Court enter a default against the party who has "failed to plead or otherwise defend" against an action. FED. R. CIV. P. 55(a). Second, if the plaintiff's claim is not for a "sum certain," the party must apply to the court for an entry of default judgment. Id. 55(b)(2). This two-step process gives a defendant an opportunity to move to set aside a default before the court enters judgment. Id. 55(c); see also H. F. Livermore Corp. v. Aktiengesellschaft Gebruder Loepfe, 432 F.2d 689, 691 (D.C. Cir. 1970) (stating that "[t]he notice requirement contained in Rule 55(b)(2) is... a device intended to protect those parties who, although delaying in a formal sense by failing to file pleadings... have otherwise indicated to the moving party a clear purpose to defend the suit").

A court has the power to enter default judgment when a defendant fails to defend its case appropriately or otherwise engages in dilatory tactics. Keegel v. Key W. & Caribbean Trading Co., 627 F.2d 372, 375 n.5 (D.C. Cir. 1980). 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 as provided by these rules." FED. R. CIV. P. 55(a). Upon request of the party entitled to default, ...


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