United States District Court, District of Columbia
BRICKLAYERS & TROWEL TRADES INTERNATIONAL PENSION FUND et al., Plaintiffs,
JOANN BARRON d/b/a BARRON TILE COMPANY, Defendant.
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
in this ERISA action-multiemployer employee benefit
plans-seek to recover unpaid contributions and associated
damages from an Ohio-based tile 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 attorneys' fees, as well
as an injunction requiring the company to submit to a payroll
audit and make the required plan contributions going forward.
Because 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. Ohio-based Defendant Joann
Barron is an individual doing business under the trade name
“Barron Tile Company” (“Barron”) and
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 Barron 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 attorneys' fees and costs; and other
legal or equitable relief as the court deems appropriate. 29
U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2).
allege that Barron 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. Barron was properly
served on January 31, 2018. Pls.' Aff. Service. It did
not respond to the complaint, however, and the Clerk of the
Court entered default on February 26, 2018. Entry of Default.
Plaintiffs now petition the Court to enter a default
judgment, seeking monetary judgement against Barron in the
amount of $8, 794.44, which includes delinquent
contributions, interest on delinquent payments, liquidated
damages, process server costs, filing fees, and
attorneys' fees. Stupar Decl. ¶¶ 9-13, 15-18.
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 Barron 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 relief
filed suit in January 2018 to recover the damages prescribed
by ERISA and the Collection Procedures. Compl. ¶ 1.
Barron was served with the summons and complaint on January
31, 2018. Pls.' Mot. Default J. 1. The Clerk of the Court
declared it to be in default on February 26, 2018. Entry of
Default. On June 12, 2018, the Court issued an Order to Show
Cause why judgment should not be entered for Plaintiffs and
set June 28, 2018 as the deadline for Barron to respond.
Barron 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 Barron has
failed to respond, the Court accepts Plaintiffs'
well-pleaded allegations and holds that it 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 Barron 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,
Barron is liable for contractual and statutory damages.
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. Barron, as noted above,
has not responded to the complaint since being served in
January 2018. The ...