United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER United States District Judge
in this ERISA action-trustees of two union pension funds-seek
to recover late fees from an Ohio-based construction company
and to conduct an audit of the company's books and
records, from November 2009 onward, to determine if there are
any delinquent contributions. Despite having been properly
served, the company has not responded to the complaint, the
Clerk's entry of default, or the Court's order to
show cause as to why judgment should not be entered against
it. Plaintiffs now request an entry of default judgment,
monetary damages, attorney's fees, and an injunction. As
Plaintiffs have adequately established that the company is
liable and that they are entitled to all of the requested
relief, the Court will grant their motion and enter judgment
against the company.
& Rogers, LTD ("Smith & Rogers") is an
Ohio-based company that employs or has employed members of
the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied
Craftworkers. Compl. ¶¶ 6, 7. The company and the
union entered into collective-bargaining agreements that
obligated Smith & Rogers to make payments to funds
benefitting the union's members, including the
Bricklayers & Trowel Trades International Pension Fund
("IPF"), the International Masonry Institute
("IMI"), and affiliated Local Ohio Bricklayers
Funds ("Local Funds") on whose behalf the IPF is
authorized to file suit. Id. ¶¶ 1-10; Decl.
David F. Stupar Supp. Pis.' Mot. Default J. ("Stupar
Decl.")¶¶l, 3, 7.
and the IMI are "employee benefit plans" and
"multiemployer plans" under the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1002 et
seq. With these designations come certain obligations.
Under ERISA and the funds' written procedures governing
the collection of employer contributions ("Collection
Procedures"), Smith & Rogers was required to submit
monthly reports and payments to the IPF, IMI, and Local Funds
for covered employees. Stupar Decl. Attach. 1 § I.A.2.
If Smith & Rogers failed to make the required
contributions, the trustees were entitled to file suit to
recover (1) 15 percent interest per year on the unpaid
contributions and dues checkoff; (2) an additional assessment
of 15 percent interest per year or liquidated damages of 20
percent of the delinquent contributions, whichever is higher;
and (3) attorney's fees and other litigation costs.
See Id. § HA.; accord 29 U.S.C. §
1132(g)(2) (allowing a fiduciary to file suit "for or on
behalf of a plan to enforce section 1145 of this
title"). Section 1132(g)(2)E) of ERISA likewise
authorizes courts to grant other forms of equitable relief,
including an injunction requiring a defendant to submit to an
audit, remit any delinquent contributions found as a result
of the audit, and pay costs associated with it. See
Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus-Pension Fund v.
Zak Architectural Metal & Glass LLC, 635 F.Supp.2d
21, 26 (D.D.C. 2009) (quoting Flynn v. Mastro Masonry
Contractors, 237 F.Supp.2d 66, 70 (D.D.C. 2002)).
trustees of the IPF and the IMI, allege that Smith &
Rogers failed to pay Local Funds late fees for "covered
work performed in the geographic jurisdiction of Local 36
[Ohio] and Local 55 [Ohio] during various months from
December 2011 through October 2014." Compl. ¶ 12;
Stupar Decl. ¶ 12. Plaintiffs further allege that they
sought access to Smith & Roger's books from November
2009 through the present to conduct an audit, but Smith &
Rogers refused to comply. Comp. ¶ 11. Smith & Rogers
was properly served on November 12, 2015. Pis.' Mot.
Entry Default J. 1. It did not respond to the complaint,
however, and the Clerk of the Court entered default on
December 14, 2015. Id. at 2. Plaintiffs now petition
the Court to enter a default judgment, seeking a monetary
judgment against Smith & Rogers in the amount of $16,
868.36, id, which includes late fees, process server costs,
filing fees, and attorney's fees and costs, Mehler Decl.
¶¶ 4, 14, 19. Plaintiffs also request that the
Court issue an injunction requiring Smith & Rogers to
turn over any records from November 2009 onward to
Plaintiffs' auditor. Pis.' Mot. Entry Default J. 2.
502(e)(2) of ERISA provides for federal jurisdiction "in
the district where the plan is administered." 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(e)(2). According to the complaint, both the IPF
and the IMI are administered in the District of Columbia.
Compl. ¶ 2. The Court therefore has jurisdiction over
the case. Plaintiffs filed the complaint within ERISA's
three-year statute-of-limitations period. See 29
Standard of Review
standard for default judgment, as set forth by the Court in
previous cases, is a two-step procedure. E.g.,
Boland v. Cacper Construction Corp., 130 F.Supp.3d
379, 382 (D.D.C. 2015). First, the plaintiff requests that
the Clerk of the Court enter default against a party who has
"failed to plead or otherwise defend." Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(a). Second, the plaintiff must move for entry of default
judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). Default judgment is available
when "the adversary process has been halted because of
an essentially unresponsive party." Boland v. Elite
Terrazzo Flooring, Inc., 763 F.Supp.2d 64, 67 (D.D.C.
2011). "Default establishes the defaulting party's
liability for the well-pleaded allegations of the
complaint." Id. After establishing liability,
the court must make an independent evaluation of the damages
to be awarded and has "considerable latitude in
determining the amount of damages." Id. The
court may hold a hearing or rely on "detailed affidavits
or documentary evidence" submitted by plaintiffs in
support of their claims. Boland v. Providence Constr.
Corp., 304 F.R.D. 31, 36 (D.D.C. 2014) (quoting
Fanning v. Permanent Sol-Indus., Inc., 257 F.R.D. 4,
7 (D.D.C. 2009)).
Court must determine whether entry of default judgment is
appropriate and, if Smith & Rogers is liable, whether
Plaintiffs are entitled to the manner and amount of relief
they request. The Court concludes that Smith & Rogers
breached its duties under ERISA and the Collection Procedures
and that Plaintiffs are entitled to the monetary and
injunctive relief requested.
filed suit in August 2015 to recover the damages prescribed
by ERISA and the Collection Procedures. Compl. ¶ 1.
Smith & Rogers was served with the summons and complaint
on November 12, 2015. Pis.' Mot. Entry Default J. 1. The
Clerk of the Court declared it to be in default on December
14, 2015. Id. at 2. On June 23, 2016, the Court
issued an Order to Show Cause as to why judgment should not
be entered for Plaintiffs and set July 7, 2016 as the
deadline for Smith & Rogers to respond. Smith &
Rogers has not responded to either the complaint, the
Clerk's entry of default, or the Court's Order to
the Clerk of the Court has entered default and Smith &
Rogers has failed to respond, the Court accepts
Plaintiffs' well-pleaded allegations and holds that Smith
& Rogers is liable and entry of default judgment is
appropriate. See Elite Terrazzo Flooring, Inc., 763
F.Supp.2d at 67. ERISA requires employers to make
contributions to multiemployer plans "in accordance with
the terms and conditions of the relevant
collective-bargaining agreements. 29 U.S.C. § 1145. The
IPF and IMI's Collection Procedures specify that