United States District Court, District of Columbia
SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION NATIONAL INDUSTRY PENSION FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
SCIENTIFIC AND COMMERCIAL SYSTEMS CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
E. BOASBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Service Employees International Union's National Industry
Pension Fund and its trustees brought this action in 2013
against Defendant Scientific and Commercial Systems
Corporation, claiming that SCSC never paid withdrawal
liability under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
SCSC then brought a cross-claim against Tessada &
Associates, Inc., seeking indemnification for any amount it
was found to owe SEIU. See ECF No. 8. The Court
ultimately awarded SEIU summary judgment on its suit against
SCSC and then stayed SCSC's cross-claim against TAI on
account of TAI's bankruptcy. SEIU now moves the Court to
direct entry of judgment against SCSC under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 54(b) by certifying that there is no just
reason for delay. Plaintiffs may then press to enforce this
judgment without awaiting the fate of TAI. Believing that
such certification is warranted, the Court will grant the
account of the relevant factual background appears in the
Court's prior Opinion in this case. See Serv. Emps.
Int'l Union Nat'l Indus. Pension Fund v. Sci. &
Commercial Sys. Corp. (SEIU I), 2015 WL
4078006, at *1-2 (D.D.C. July 2, 2015). To briefly summarize,
SCSC was a subcontractor to TAI and hired members of SEIU to
perform janitorial work at a government facility. This
obligated SCSC to contribute to an SEIU pension plan under
ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq, and its later
amendments. TAI eventually terminated its contract with SCSC,
which led SCSC to cancel its union contract. Such
cancellation gave rise to a withdrawal penalty under ERISA.
See 29 U.S.C. § 1399. After unsuccessfully
dogging SCSC for the money, Plaintiffs brought this suit,
which then led to SCSC's cross-claim against TAI. After a
number of stays in the hopes of an administrative resolution,
SEIU moved forward with its case against SCSC and prevailed
in full at the summary-judgment stage. See Serv. Emps.
Int'l Union Nat'l Indus. Pension Fund v. Sci. &
Commercial Sys. Corp. (SEIU II), 2016 WL
5313006, at *10 (D.D.C. Sept. 22, 2016). Although the date of
filing is uncertain, TAI is currently in bankruptcy,
see ECF No. 61 (Status Report); as a result, the
Court stayed the remainder of the action. See Minute
Order of Oct. 11, 2016. Rather than wait for a resolution of
the bankruptcy proceedings and the SCSC-TAI battle, SEIU now
moves under Rule 54(b) for entry of judgment against SCSC,
the sole defendant.
When an action presents more than one claim for relief -
whether as a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party
claim - or when multiple parties are involved, the court may
direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer
than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly
determines that there is no just reason for delay.
follow a two-step process under this rule: “A district
court must first determine that it is dealing with a
‘final judgment.' . . . Once having found finality,
the district court must go on to determine whether there is
any just reason for delay.” Curtiss-Wright Corp. v.
Gen. Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 7-8 (1980). At the first
step, a court must consider if its decision is an ultimate
disposition regarding a party's claim for relief.
Id. at 7 (“It must be a ‘judgment'
in the sense that it is a decision upon a cognizable claim
for relief, and it must be ‘final' in the sense
that it is ‘an ultimate disposition of an individual
claim entered in the course of a multiple claims
action.'”) (quoting Sears, Roebuck & Co. v.
Mackey, 351 U.S. 427, 436 (1956)).
decision in question is indeed a final judgment, the inquiry
turns next to the reasons for delay and employs a list of
five relevant factors that were originally set out in
Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Phila. Elec. Co.,
521 F.2d 360 (3d Cir. 1975):
(1) the relationship between the adjudicated and
unadjudicated claims; (2) the possibility that the need for
review might or might not be mooted by future developments in
the district court; (3) the possibility that the reviewing
court might be obliged to consider the same issue a second
time; (4) the presence or absence of a claim or counterclaim
which could result in a set-off against the judgment sought
to be made final; (5) miscellaneous factors such as delay,
economic and solvency considerations, shortening the time of
trial, frivolity of competing claims, expense, and the like.
Id. at 364 (footnotes omitted). These factors are
not deemed all-inclusive but represent the main
considerations courts focus on in making Rule 54(b)
determinations. See Downing v. Riceland Foods,
Inc., 810 F.3d 580, 585-86 (8th Cir. 2016); MCI
Constructors, LLC v. City of Greensboro, 610 F.3d
849, 855 (4th Cir. 2010); Akers v. Alvey, 338 F.3d
491, 495 (6th Cir. 2003).
stated, the determination under Rule 54(b) “weighs both
‘justice to the litigants' and ‘the interest
of sound judicial administration.'” Brooks v.
Dist. Hosp. Partners, L.P., 606 F.3d 800, 806 (D.C. Cir.
2010) (quoting Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 6, 8).
The Rule “mediates between the sometimes antagonistic
goals of avoiding piecemeal appeals and giving parties timely
justice.” Taylor v. FDIC, 132 F.3d 753, 760
(D.C. Cir. 1997). “The factors affecting ‘justice
to the parties' will inevitably differ from case to case,
but the factors pertaining to judicial administration include
‘whether the claims under review [are] separable from
the others remaining to be adjudicated and whether the nature
of the claims already determined [is] such that no appellate
court [will] have to decide the same issues more than once
even if there [are] subsequent appeals.'”
Brooks, 606 F.3d at 806 (quoting
Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8).
seeking entry of judgment here, Plaintiffs argue that both
prongs of Rule 54(b) are met. In opposition, Defendant
primarily contests the first prong of the analysis.
See ECF No. 64 (Opposition) at 2 (“SEIU's
summary judgment order is not a final order due to a
few considerations.”) (emphasis added). As ...