United States District Court, District of Columbia
SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL NATIONAL INDUSTRY PENSION FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
TANDEM DEVELOPMENT GROUP, LLC, Defendant.
BERMAN JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Service Employees International National Pension Fund
(“SEIU Pension Fund” or “Fund”) and
the Trustees of the Fund brought this action against
defendant Tandem Development Group, LLC,  pursuant to the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act
(“ERISA”), as amended, 29 U.S.C. §
1132 et seq. Compl. [Dkt. # 1]. They allege that
defendant failed to submit certain payroll records to the
Fund in violation of the parties' collective bargaining
agreement, and that defendant failed to submit to mandatory
payroll audits. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 17-18.
pending before the Court is plaintiffs' motion for an
entry of default judgment. Pls.' Mot. for Default J.
[Dkt. # 11] (“Pls.' Mot.”); Pls.' Mem. in
Supp of Pls.' Mot. [Dkt. # 11-1] (“Pls.'
Mem.”). Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief in the form
of the payroll reports and they request a court order
requiring defendant to submit to the payroll audits and to
pay reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. Pls.' Mem.
at 11-12. Having considered plaintiffs' submissions,
applicable case law, statutory authority, and the record as a
whole, the Court will grant plaintiffs' motion for
January 2011, plaintiffs and defendant entered into a
collective bargaining agreement Compl. ¶ 9; Ex. 1 to
Compl. [Dkt. # 1-3] (“CBA”). As part of the CBA,
defendant agreed to abide by a Trust Agreement, under which
employers must “contribute to the [SEIU Pension] Fund
the required contributions and shall make such reports to the
Fund as may be required by the Trustees.” Ex. 2 to
Compl. [Dkt. # 1-4] (“Trust Agreement”) §
3.1; CBA at 15; see also Compl. ¶ 14. Under the
Trust Agreement, an employer must submit “remittance
reports” that contain “the names of each covered
employee and the number of compensable hours for each
employee during the reporting month, ” along with the
corresponding contributions. Compl. ¶ 14. Pursuant to
the Trust Agreement and the CBA, “[d]efendant was
required to contribute $0.15 per hour for each hour worked by
covered employees.” Id. ¶ 10; CBA at 19.
also includes a collection policy, and that policy includes a
provision requiring defendant to submit to a
“compliance audit program, ” through which
“[a]ll contributing Employers are to be audited at
least once over a six-year period.” CBA Collection
Policy [Dkt. # 1-3] ¶ 7. The complaint states that the
purpose of a payroll audit “is to verify that an
employer's monthly self-reporting of employee hours is
consistent with the employer's payroll records and state
and federal tax filings.” Compl. ¶ 15. The parties
agreed in the Trust Agreement that the Fund could
“examine payroll and other pertinent records of any
Employer whenever such examination is deemed necessary or
advisable.” Trust Agreement § 5.1(14).
Fund exercised its authority and selected defendant for two
payroll audits for the periods of January 2011 through
December 2012 and January 2012 through December 2013. Compl.
¶¶ 17-18. Plaintiffs sent several letters to
defendant about each audit, “informing Defendant of the
audit” and requesting “certain documentation
necessary to perform the payroll review.” Id.
Defendant failed to respond to these letters and failed to
provide the required payroll records. Id.
filed a complaint with this Court on December 29, 2016, to
“enforce Defendant's contractual and statutory
obligations to provide payroll review records” to the
SEIU Pension Fund. Compl. ¶ 1. Defendant was served on
February 16, 2017, see Aff. of Special Process
Server [Dkt. # 6], but it did not file an answer or otherwise
respond to the complaint. Plaintiffs then filed an affidavit
for default, Pls.' Aff. for Clerk's Entry of Default
[Dkt. # 7], and the Clerk of Court entered defendant's
default. Clerk's Entry of Default [Dkt. # 10]. Plaintiffs
then filed a motion for default judgment, requesting a Court
order to require defendant to provide the payroll reports and
submit to the audit of its books and records, and seeking
attorneys' fees and costs. Pls.' Mot. at 1.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) provides that the clerk of the
court must enter a party's default “[w]hen a party
against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has
failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is
shown by affidavit or otherwise.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a).
After a default has been entered, a court may enter a default
judgment order pursuant to Rule 55(b). Whether default
judgment is appropriate is in the discretion of the trial
court. Keegel v. Key West & Caribbean
Trading Co., 627 F.2d 372, 375 n.5 (D.C. Cir. 1980);
Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 836 (D.C. Cir.
1980). Upon entry of default by the clerk of the court, the
“defaulting defendant is deemed to admit every
well-pleaded allegation in the complaint.”
Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus. Pension
Fund v. R.W. Amrine Drywall Co., Inc., 239 F.Supp.2d 26,
30 (D.D.C. 2002), citing Trans World Airlines, Inc. v.
Hughes, 449 F.2d 51, 63 (2d Cir. 1971). “Although
the default establishes a defendant's liability, the
court is required to make an independent determination of the
sum to be awarded unless the amount of damages is
certain.” Id., citing Adkins v.
Teseo, 180 F.Supp.2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001). Accordingly,
when moving for a default judgment, the plaintiff must prove
its entitlement to the amount of monetary damages requested.
Id. (citation omitted). “In ruling on such a
motion, the court may rely on detailed affidavits or
documentary evidence to determine the appropriate sum for the
default judgment.” Id. (citation omitted)
“the absence of any request to set aside the default or
suggestion by the defendant that it has a meritorious
defense, ” the Court concludes that default judgment is
appropriate in this case. Int'l Painters & Allied
Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Auxier Drywall, LLC, 531
F.Supp.2d 56, 57 (D.D.C. 2008), quoting Gutierrez v. Berg
Contracting Inc., No. 99-3044, 2000 WL 331721, at *1
(D.D.C. Mar. 20, 2000). The Clerk of Court has already
entered defendant's default, so the factual allegations
in the complaint are therefore taken as true. See R.W.
Amrine Drywall Co., Inc., 239 F.Supp.2d at 30. The Court
finds that plaintiffs' complaint sufficiently alleges
facts to support its claims, and therefore, plaintiffs are
entitled to default judgment on the question of
defendant's liability for its failure to turn over the
required payroll records and submit to the required audits.
Plaintiffs are entitled to the payroll review records, and
the Court will order defendant to cooperate with the required
ERISA, “[e]very employer who is obligated to make
contributions to a multiemployer plan . . . under the terms
of a collectively bargained agreement shall, to the extent
not inconsistent with law, make such contributions in
accordance with the terms and conditions of . . . such
agreement.” 29 U.S.C.A. § 1145. ERISA also
requires that the court “shall award . . . such other
legal or equitable relief as the court deems
appropriate.” 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2)(e). This
relief can include an injunction requiring a defendant to
permit, and cooperate with, an audit of its books and
records. See, e.g., Boland v. Smith & Rogers
Constr. Co., 201 F.Supp.3d 144, 150 ...