United States District Court, District of Columbia
BRICKLAYERS & TROWEL TRADES INTERNATIONAL PENSION FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
CONNECTICUT STONE INDUSTRIES, LLC, Defendant.
BERMAN JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Bricklayers & Trowel Trades International Pension Fund
("IPF") and International Masonry Institute
("IMF), by and through their Trustees, brought this
action against defendant Connecticut Stone Industries, LLC
pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
("ERISA"), as amended, 29 USC § 1132
et seq. See Compl. [Dkt. #1]. They allege
that defendant failed to submit reports to them and
contribute the proper amounts owed under the relevant
collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs").
Id. ¶ 10.
defendant failed to respond to the complaint, the Clerk of
the Court filed an entry of default against defendant on
December 28, 2017 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
55(a). Clerk's Entry of Default! [Dkt. # 5]. Now pending
before the Court is plaintiffs'motion for default
judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2). Mot. for Entry of J. by
Default and to Close Case [Dkt. # 7] ("Pls.'
Mot."); Mem. in Supp. of Pls.' Mot. [Dkt. # 7-1]
("Pls.' Mem."). Plaintiffs seek unpaid
contributions, interest, liquidated damages, and
attorneys' fees and costs, in addition to equitable
relief in the form of injunctions compelling defendant to
submit to a payroll audit and to comply with its reporting
and contribution obligations under the CBAs moving forward.
Compl. ¶ 41; Pls.'Mem. at 4-16.
closely reviewed plaintiffs' submissions, applicable case
law, statutory authority, and the record of the case as a
whole, the Court will grant plaintiffs' motion for
IMI are employee benefit plans subject to ERISA that provide
retirement, disability, and related benefits to employees
working in the construction industry as bricklayers and
related trades. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2; Decl. of David F.
Stupar [Dkt. # 7-3] ("Stupar Decl.") ¶ 3;
Pls.' Mem. at 2. The benefits provided by plaintiffs are
financed by contributions made by employers, such as the
defendant, who are signatories to collective bargaining
agreements with International Bricklayers and Allied
Craftworkers and its affiliated local unions. Pls.' Mem.
at 2; see Compl. ¶¶ 7-8. At all times
relevant to this lawsuit, defendant has been bound to CBAs
with International Union of Bricklayers and Allied
Craftworkers Local Union No. 65 - Connecticut. Compl. ¶
7. Those CBAs "govern the wages, benefits and terms and
conditions of employment of certain employees performing work
for the [d]efendant." Id. Pursuant to the CBAs,
defendant is obligated to make contributions to plaintiffs in
order to fund the benefits provided to defendant's
employees. Id. ¶ 8; Stupar Decl. ¶ 3;
see also Ex. 1 to Stupar Decl. [Dkt. # 7-3]
Trustees adopted the Collection Procedures to govern the
collection of employer contributions and reports. Stupar
Decl. ¶ 4; see Collection Procedures. Under
these procedures, contributions and reports are due on or
before the fifteenth day of each month, following the month
in which the work is performed. Stupar Decl. ¶ 5;
Collection Procedures at 1. The Collection Procedures dictate
that if an employer is delinquent, it may be assessed
interest at the rate of fifteen percent per annum from the
due date of each monthly payment. Compl. ¶ 11; see
also Stupar Decl. ¶ 5; Collection Procedures at 2.
Further, an employer may be liable for an amount equal to the
greater of an additional calculation of interest on the
unpaid contributions at the rate of fifteen percent per annum
from the due date of each monthly payment, or liquidated
damages in the amount of twenty percent of the total
contributions owed. Compl. ¶ 12; Stupar Decl. ¶ 5;
Collection Procedures at 2.
defendant failed to submit the required remittance reports
and pay the necessary contributions for several months,
plaintiffs filed a complaint in this Court on November 7,
2017 seeking to collect "all contributions, interest,
liquidated damages and attorneys' fees and costs."
Compl. ¶ 31. They allege that for the months of December
2016, January 2017, and February 2017, defendant submitted
reports, but failed to pay $5, 533.69 in contributions owed
to plaintiffs under the CBAs. Compl. ¶ 16. Plaintiffs
also claim that defendant failed to submit reports and to pay
the contributions owed to plaintiffs between March 2017 and
September 2017, and that based on estimated contribution
rates, defendant owes plaintiff IPF $21, 611.55 and plaintiff
IMI $1, 516.90. Id. ¶¶ 20-27. Further,
they allege that defendant has failed to pay interest or any
additional damages owed based on these delinquent payments.
Id. ¶¶ 16, 28.
November 13, 2017, a private process server served the
summons and complaint on defendant's registered agent.
Aff of Serv. [Dkt. # 3]. Defendant failed to answer or
otherwise respond to plaintiffs' complaint, so plaintiffs
filed a request for the Clerk's entry of default on
December 27, 2017, which was supported by an affidavit for
default. See Req. for Clerk's Entry of Default
[Dkt. # 4]; Aff. in Supp. of Default [Dkt. # 4-1]. The Clerk
entered default against defendant the next day, see
Clerk's Entry of Default [Dkt. # 5], and plaintiffs
subsequently filed this motion for default judgment on
January 30, 2018. Pls.' Mot.
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 W. & Caribbean Trading Co.,
627 F.2d 372, 375 n.5 (D.C. Cir. 1980); Jackson v.
Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 835 (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.,
239 F.Supp.2d 26, 30 (D.D.C. 2002), citing Trans World
Airlines, Inc. v. Hughes, 449 F.2d 51, 63 (2d Cir.
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." R.W. Amrine Drywall Co., 239
F.Supp.2d at 30, 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)."
granting default judgment against a defendant covered by
ERISA for failure to pay contributions owed under CBAs must
award: (1) the unpaid contributions; (2) interest on the
unpaid contributions; (3) liquidated damages; (4) reasonable
attorneys' fees and costs; and (5) any other legal or
equitable relief it deems appropriate. 29 U.S.C. §
1132(g)(2); R.W. Amrine Drywall Co., 239 F.Supp.2d
at 31. "The unpaid contributions, interest, and
liquidated damages generally are considered 'sums
certain' pursuant to the calculations mandated in ERISA
and the parties' ...