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National Shopmen Pension Fund v. Stamford Iron & Steel Works, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 25, 2013

NATIONAL SHOPMEN PENSION FUND, et al., Plaintiff,
v.
STAMFORD IRON AND STEEL WORKS, INC., Defendant

Page 230

For NATIONAL SHOPMEN PENSION FUND, TIMOTHY F. O'CONNELL, in his capacity as Trustee to the National Shopmen Pension Fund, WALTER WISE, Plaintiffs: Laura Offenbacher Aradi, LEAD ATTORNEY, Marc H. Rifkind, SLEVIN & HART P.C., Washington, DC.

For STAMFORD IRON & STEEL WORKS, INC., Defendant: Steven L. Gremminger, GREMMINGER LAW FIRM, Washington, DC; Steven Michael Oster, OSTER LAW FIRM, Washington, DC.

OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Page 231

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The Plaintiffs, National Shopmen Pension Fund (" the Fund" ), filed this action on July 10, 2013, against the Defendant Stamford Iron and Steel Works, Inc. (" SISW" ) to collect withdrawal liability assessed against SISW pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (" ERISA" ), as amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980, 29 U.S.C. § § 1001 et seq. The Fund claims that SISW ceased making contributions to the Fund as required under a collective bargaining agreement with Local Union 832 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Works Union, AFL-CIO. See Sec. Am. Compl., at ¶ ¶ 7-8. On September 23, 2013, SISW filed a [17] Motion to Transfer Venue, or, in the alternative, to Dismiss for Forum Non Conveniens .[1] SISW seeks to transfer the case to the District of Connecticut, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The Fund filed an opposition brief, and SISW filed a reply. For the reasons explained below, the Court shall DENY SISW's Motion to Transfer Venue or, in the alternative, to Dismiss for Forum Non Conveniens.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The National Shopmen Pension Fund is a multiemployer employee benefit plan whose purpose is to provide pension, retirement, and related benefits to the eligible employees of employers who contribute to the Fund pursuant to various collective bargaining agreements with affiliated Shopmen's Local Unions of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, and Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Works Union, AFL-CIO. See Sec. Am. Compl., at ¶ 4. SISW is a small Stamford, Connecticut-based specialty steel mill. See id. at ¶ 6; Decl. of Thomas Pettit (" Pettit Decl.), at ¶ 4. SISW was the signatory to a collective bargaining agreement (" CBA" ) with Shopmen's Local Union No. 832 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Works Union, AFL-CIO. See Sec. Am. Compl., at ¶ ¶ 7-8; Pettit Decl., at ¶ ¶ 9-10. Pursuant to the CBA, SISW was required to make monthly contributions to the Fund on behalf of its unionized employees. See Sec. Am. Compl., at ¶ 9; Def.'s Mot., Ex. B (Collective Bargaining Agreement), at 21-22.

In June 2011, the Fund determined that SISW had effected a " complete withdrawal" from the Fund, as defined in § 4203 of ERISA,

Page 232

after allegedly receiving notice from Shopmen Local Union No. 832 representative, Anthony Rosaci, that SISW had allegedly ceased operations. See Sec. Am. Compl., at ¶ 11. The Fund determined that as a result of SISW's complete withdrawal, SISW incurred withdrawal liability to the Fund in the amount of $233,420. See id.

The Defendant alleges that the Fund was erroneously notified by Mr. Rosaci that SISW had ceased operations in December 2011. Def.'s Mot., at 2. The Defendant claims that, in December 2011 SISW underwent a substantial corporate reorganization, including a sale of its main building, which permitted upgrades to its manufacturing facility. Id. During renovations, SISW laid off its workforce and explained to their employees that some of them would be recalled when the construction was complete, which three employees were. Id. The Defendant alleges that contrary to the information Mr. Rosaci provided the Fund, SISW remained open throughout December 2011 and was required to only temporarily suspend ...


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