United States District Court, District of Columbia
MICHAEL R. FANNING, Plaintiff,
SENECA ONE REALTY LLC, Defendant.
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER United States District Judge.
Michael R. Fanning is the Chief Executive Officer of the
Central Pension Fund of the International Union of Operating
Engineers and Participating Employers. He brought this ERISA
action seeking to recover unpaid contributions to the fund
along with prejudgment interest, liquidated damages, audit
and attorneys' fees, and litigation costs from Seneca One
Realty, LLC (“Seneca One”). Despite being
properly served, Seneca One has failed to respond to the
complaint, the Clerk's entry of default, and the
Court's Order to Show Cause why judgment should not be
entered against it. Fanning now moves for default judgment.
Finding that Seneca One is liable, the Court will grant the
motion and enter judgment against the company in the amount
of $8, 343.87.
One entered a binding collective bargaining agreement with
Local No. 17 of the International Union of Operating
Engineers (“Local 17”) for the work performed at
One HSBC Center in Buffalo, NY. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 6;
see also Pl.'s Mot. Entry Default J., Ex. B
(Agreement between Seneca One and International Union of
Operating Engineers). Fanning sues in his capacity as the
Chief Executive Officer of the Central Pension Fund of the
International Union of Operating Engineers and Participating
Employers (“Central Pension Fund”). Id.
at ¶ 1. The collective bargaining agreement between
Seneca One and Local 17 requires the company to pay
contributions to the Central Pension Fund for hours worked by
employees covered by the agreement. Id. at ¶ 7.
Central Pension Fund is an “employee benefit
plan” and a “multiemployer plan” as those
terms are defined under the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1002
(“ERISA”). With these designations come certain
obligations. Under ERISA and the Central Pension Fund's
Restated Agreement and Declaration of Trust
(“Declaration”), Seneca One was obligated to
self-report the number of hours worked by covered employees
and make monthly contribution payments to the Central Pension
Fund, which are calculated based on these hours. See
Pl.'s Mot. Entry Default J. 3, 4. Specifically, the
collective bargaining agreement requires Seneca One to pay
the Central Pension Fund $2.15 per hour for every hour worked
by a covered employee, effective as of January 1, 2012.
See Pl.'s Mot. Entry Default J., Ex. B art. 16
alleges that from January 2013 to December 2015, Seneca One
employed covered employees but failed to pay the
corresponding, agreed-upon contributions to the Central
Pension Fund. Compl. ¶¶ 7-9. The Declaration
provides that an employer failing to make such payments is
liable for the unpaid amount, liquidated damages of up to 20%
of the unpaid amount, and interest at the annual rate of 9%,
along with attorneys' fees, audit fees, and applicable
litigation costs. Compl. ¶¶ 10, 12, 19; see
also Pl.'s Mot. Entry Default J., Ex. A at §
4.5 (Declaration). Fanning is entitled as a third-party
beneficiary of the collective bargaining agreement to enforce
these terms. See Pl.'s Mot. Entry Default J. 3.
One was properly served on January 24, 2017. See
Feb. 16, 2017 Return of Service, ECF No. 3. It did not
respond to the complaint, and the Clerk of the Court entered
default on February 17, 2017. See Feb. 17, 2017
Clerk's Entry of Default, ECF No. 5. Fanning now seeks a
monetary default judgment against Seneca One, comprised of
unpaid contributions, accrued interest, liquidated damages,
audit fees, attorneys' fees, and costs.
502(e)(2) of ERISA provides for federal jurisdiction
“in the district where the plan is administered.”
28 U.S.C. § 1332(e)(2). Because the Central Pension Fund
is administered in the District of Columbia, see
Compl. ¶ 1, the Court may properly exercise jurisdiction
over this case.
Standard of Review
two-step procedure for requesting a default judgment has been
set forth by this Court on multiple occasions. See,
e.g., Boland v. Cacper Construction Corp., 130
F.Supp.3d 379, 382 (D.D.C. 2015). A plaintiff first must
request 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). The Court then decides
whether an entry of default judgment is warranted.
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 makes an independent evaluation of the damages
award, which it has “considerable latitude” to
determine. Id. The Court may hold a hearing if
necessary or can 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)).
filed this suit on January 19, 2017 to recover the damages
prescribed by ERISA, the collective bargaining agreement, and
the Declaration. See Pl.'s Mot Entry Default J.
1. Seneca One was timely served with a summons and the
complaint on January 24, 2017, and the Clerk of the Court
declared Seneca One to be in default on February 17, 2017.
Id. On April 27, 2017, the Court issued an Order to
Show Cause why judgment should not be entered for Plaintiff
and set May 12, 2017 as the deadline for Seneca One to
respond. Seneca One has failed to respond to the complaint,
the Clerk's entry of default, or the Court's
the Clerk of the Court has entered default and Seneca One has
failed to respond, the Court accepts Fanning's
well-pleaded allegations and holds that Seneca One is liable
and that entry of default judgment is appropriate. See
Elite Terrazzo Flooring, 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 Declaration specifies that
contributions are due by the last day of the month following
the month in which the work was done. See Pl.'s
Mot Entry Default J. 3; Decl. of Michael R. Fanning
(“Fanning Decl.”) ¶ 10. It also provides
that the Central Pension Fund's “Trustees may, by
their respective representatives, audit and examine the
pertinent employment and payroll records of each Employer . .
. whenever such examination is deemed necessary or advisable
by the Trustees . . . .” Pl.'s Mot Entry Default
J., Ex. A at 1 (Declaration). Plaintiff has submitted a