United States District Court, District of Columbia
BRICKLAYERS & TROWEL TRADES INTERNATIONAL PENSION FUND, Plaintiffs,
KAFKA CONSTRUCTION, INC. Defendant.
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
in this ERISA action-an employee pension benefit plan and an
employee welfare benefit plan-seek to recover unpaid
contributions and associated damages from a New York-based
construction company. 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 why judgment should not be entered against it.
Plaintiffs now request a default judgment, monetary damages,
and attorney's fees, as well as an injunction requiring
the company to make the required plan contributions going
forward. As Plaintiffs have adequately established that the
Defendant 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.
Bricklayers & Trowel Trades International Pension Fund
(“IPF”) and the International Masonry Institute
(“IMI”)-are “employee benefit plans”
and “multiemployer plans” under the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1002
et seq. (“ERISA”). The plans are funded
by contributions made by employers who are signatories to
collective bargaining agreements. New York-based Kafka
Construction Co. is one such employer. It is required under
its collection bargaining agreements and the plans'
written procedures governing the collection of employer
contributions (“Collection Procedures”) to submit
monthly reports and payments to the plans based on the number
of hours worked by its employees in covered job positions.
David F. Stupar Supp. Pls.' Mot. Default J.
(“Stupar Decl.”) ¶ 7. If Kafka Construction
fails to make the required contributions, Plaintiffs are
entitled to file suit to recover the unpaid contributions;
interest on the unpaid contributions; either an additional
assessment of interest on the unpaid contributions or
liquidated damages provided for under the plan not in excess
of 20 percent, whichever is higher; reasonable attorney's
fees and costs; and other legal or equitable relief as the
court deems appropriate. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2).
allege that Kafka Construction failed to “report and
pay all amounts owing to [them] as required” by the
applicable collective bargaining agreements and the
plans' Collection Procedures. Compl. ¶ 10. Kafka
Construction was properly served on August 1, 2016. Pls.'
Aff. Service. It did not respond to the complaint, however,
and the Clerk of the Court entered default on June 1, 2017.
Entry of Default. Plaintiffs now petition the Court to enter
a default judgment, seeking a monetary judgment against Kafka
Construction in the amount of $28, 901.17, which includes
delinquent contributions, interest on delinquent payments,
liquidated damages, process server costs, filing fees, and
attorney's fees. Stupar Decl. ¶¶ 9-12, 14-16.
502(e)(2) of ERISA provides for federal jurisdiction
“in the district where the plan is administered.”
29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(2). According to the complaint, both
the IPF and the IMI are administered in the District of
Columbia. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2. The Court therefore has
jurisdiction over the case. Plaintiffs filed the complaint
within ERISA's three-year statute-of-limitations period.
See 29 U.S.C. § 1113.
Standard of Review
standard for default judgment is a two-step procedure.
See, e.g., Boland v. Cacper Constr. 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)
(internal citation omitted). “Default establishes a
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 Kafka Construction is liable, whether
Plaintiffs are entitled to the manner and amount of relief
they request. The Court concludes that the company breached
its duties under ERISA and the Collection Procedures and that
Plaintiffs are entitled to both the monetary and injunctive
filed suit in July 2016 to recover the damages prescribed by
ERISA and the Collection Procedures. Compl. ¶ 1. Kafka
Construction was served with the summons and complaint on
August 1, 2016. Pls.' Mot. Default J. 1. The Clerk of the
Court declared it to be in default on June 1, 2017. Entry of
Default. On June 6, 2017, the Court issued an Order to Show
Cause why judgment should not be entered for Plaintiffs and
set June 20, 2017 as the deadline for Kafka Construction to
respond. Kafka Construction has not responded to either the
complaint, the Clerk's entry of default, or the
Court's Order to Show Cause.
the Clerk of the Court has entered default and Kafka
Construction has failed to respond, the Court accepts
Plaintiffs' well-pleaded allegations and holds that Kafka
Construction is liable and that 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
contributions are due “on or before the 15th day of the
month” after the month in which work was performed.
Stupar Decl. ¶ 5. They further provide that Kafka
Construction will “submit monthly fringe benefit
remittance reports and pay monthly fringe benefit
contributions to the IPF and IMI for each hour of covered
work performed by its employees within the work and
geographic jurisdictions of the Agreement.” Stupar
Decl. ¶ 7. By failing to submit required reports and pay
the required contributions to IMI and IPF for covered work,
Kafka Construction is liable for contractual and statutory
Court may enter default judgment when a defendant makes no
request “to set aside the default” and gives no
indication of a “meritorious defense.”
Fanning, 257 F.R.D. at 7. Kafka Construction, as
noted above, has not responded to the complaint since being
served in August 2016. The ...