United States District Court, District of Columbia
SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION NATIONAL INDUSTRY PENSION FUND, et al., Plaintiffs
JERSEY CITY HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS, LLC, Defendant
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Service Employees International Union National Industry
Pension Fund and the Fund's Trustees, bring this action
against Defendant, Jersey City Healthcare Providers, LLC,
under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
(“ERISA”). See 29 U.S.C. § 1001
et seq. Based on alleged non-payments and
underpayments to Plaintiffs' pension fund from January
2012 through April 2017, Plaintiffs seek $34, 383.66 in
outstanding contributions, liquidated damages, interest, and
audit testing fees. Plaintiffs also request attorneys'
fees and costs and additional accrued interest. Defendant
argues that it has made and continues to make all proper
pension fund contributions. Plaintiffs have moved for summary
consideration of the pleadings,  the relevant legal
authorities, and the record as it currently stands, the Court
GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court
concludes that Defendant was required to make increased
supplemental contribution payments following the passage of
the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014
(“MPRA”). See 29 U.S.C. § 1085.
Because Defendant failed to make the increased supplemental
contributions from September 2015 to April 2017, Plaintiffs
are owed $32, 715.50 in damages to account for the unpaid
contributions, interest, and liquidated damages. The Court
also concludes that Plaintiffs are owed $1, 668.16 in unpaid
contributions, interest, liquidated damages, and audit
testing fees resulting from the pension fund's 2012-2013
audit of Defendant. Accordingly, Plaintiffs are GRANTED $34,
383.66 in total damages based on Defendant's September
2015 to April 2017 unpaid supplemental contributions and on
Defendant's 2012-2013 audit. Finally, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiffs' motion for injunctive relief requiring
Defendant to remit reports and contributions going forward in
accordance with the collective bargaining agreements, the
pension fund's documents, and federal law as Defendant
has demonstrated a repeated unwillingness to comply with
and Defendant entered into a collective bargaining agreement
(“CBA”) spanning the period from April 1, 2010 to
March 31, 2014. CBA, Ex. 1, ECF No. 18-1, 5. As is relevant
to this case, the CBA established terms and conditions of
employment for certified nursing assistants
(“CNAs”), dietary staff, housekeeping staff, and
recreational aides. Id. at 1A. Even though, by its
terms, the CBA expired on March 31, 2014, Defendant has
continued to make payments and remit reports to the pension
fund in accord with the terms and conditions of the CBA.
Pls.' Statement of Material Facts, ECF No. 18-9, ¶
6; Def.'s Res. To Pls.' Statement of Material Facts,
ECF No. 19-1, ¶ 84.
the terms of the CBA, Defendant “agrees to make
periodic contributions on behalf of all employees covered by
the Collective Bargaining Agreement to the Service Employees
International Union National Industry Pension Fund” and
“agrees to become and remain a participating employer
in the Fund throughout the term of this Collective Bargaining
Agreement, including any extensions thereof.” CBA, Ex.
1, ECF No. 18-1, 25.1-2. The CBA also states that Defendant
“agrees to be bound by the provisions of the Agreement
and Declaration of Trust establishing the Fund, as it may
from time to time be amended, and by all resolutions and
rules adopted by the Trustees pursuant to the powers
delegated to them by the Agreement, including collection
policies.” Id. at 25.4.
to the Trust agreement, the trustees adopted a Statement of
Policy for Collection of Delinquent Contributions
(“Collection Policy”). See generally
Collection Policy, Ex. 3, ECF No. 18-3. Under the Collection
Policy, employers are required to make contributions to the
pension fund on or before the 15th of the month after the
month in which the work was performed. Id. at 2.1.
If the contributions are not received by their due date, the
pension fund is entitled to collect interest on delinquent
contributions at the rate of 10% per annum. Id. at
5.1. The Collection Policy further permits the pension fund
to collect liquidated damages for any month where an employer
is delinquent in its contributions. Id. at 5.2. The
amount of liquidated damages is calculated as the greater of
the interest due or 20% of the delinquent contributions.
to the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (“PPA”),
the pension fund was determined to be in
“critical” status for the plan years 2009 through
2017. See 29 U.S.C § 1085. Employers were
notified of the pension fund's critical status by letters
sent annually from 2009 to 2017. Ex. 4, ECF No. 18-4
(critical status letters to employers). Because the plan was
in critical status, the PPA required the plan to implement a
rehabilitation plan to correct its financial situation. 29
U.S.C. § 1085(e)(1). Under the rehabilitation plan
adopted by the pension fund, employers were required to make
supplemental contributions. Ex. 5, ECF no. 18-5 (letter to
employers explaining rehabilitation plan). Employers could
choose to make their supplemental contributions under a
Preferred Schedule or a Default Schedule. Id.
Defendant negotiated its CBA in 2010, the parties agreed upon
the Preferred Schedule for supplemental contributions. CBA,
Ex. 1, ECF No. 18-1, 25.3. When the CBA expired on March 31,
2014, the pension fund was still in critical status. CBA, Ex.
1, ECF No. 18-1, 5 (setting the term of the contract).
Following the CBA's expiration, the parties failed to
successfully negotiate a new CBA. Pls.' Statement of
Material Facts, ECF No. 18-9, ¶ 28; Def.'s Res. To
Pls.' Statement of Material Facts, ECF No. 19-1, ¶
a new CBA, the pension fund continued to charge Plaintiffs
for supplemental contributions at the same rate as had been
charged prior to the CBA's expiration-37.6% of its base
contractual contribution-until January 1, 2015. But, relying
on the enactment of the MPRA, on January 1, 2015, the pension
fund implemented a continuation of the Preferred Schedule
which increased the rate of Defendant's supplemental
contributions. Pls.' Statement of Material Facts, ECF No.
18-9, ¶¶ 29-30. Defendant contends that the rate of
its supplemental contributions should not have increased
because the MPRA was inapplicable as the parties' CBA
expired prior to the MPRA's enactment. Def.'s Res. To
Pls.' Statement of Material Facts, ECF No. 19-1,
on Defendant's failure to pay the increased rates for
supplemental contributions, Plaintiffs argue that Defendant
underpaid its monthly contributions between September 2015
and April 2017. Including delinquent contributions, interest,
and liquidated damages, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant owes
$11, 814.09 for dietary and housekeeping employees, $19,
532.56 for CNAs, and $1, 368.85 for recreational employees.
Pls.' Statement of Material Facts, ECF No. 18-9,
¶¶ 35-44. Accordingly, Plaintiffs argue that
Defendant owes a total of $32, 715.50 for delinquent
contributions, interest, and liquidated damages based on a
failure to pay increased supplemental contribution rates
between September 2015 and April 2017. Defendant disputes
this amount, contending that it made all required payments
during this timeframe. Def.'s Res. To Pls.' Statement
of Material Facts, ECF No. 19-1, ¶ 105.
addition to the alleged damages owed from September 2015 to
April 2017, Plaintiffs argue that Defendant also owes damages
based on a prior audit of Defendant's contributions. In
2014, the pension fund audited Defendant's contributions
for calendar years 2012-2013. Pls.' Statement of Material
Facts, ECF No. 18-9, ¶ 45; Def.'s Res. To Pls.'
Statement of Material Facts, ECF No. 19-1, ¶ 45.
Defendant produced hundreds of pages of records in response
to the pension fund's audit request, including records
indicating hours worked, amounts paid, and employment status
of employees. Pls.' Statement of Material Facts, ECF No.
18-9, ¶ 47; Def.'s Res. To Pls.' Statement of
Material Facts, ECF No. 19-1, ¶ 85.
on the results of the 2012-2013 audit, the pension fund
determined that Defendant owed $63.23 in delinquent
contributions, interest, and liquidated damages for its
dietary and housekeeping employees. Pls.' Statement of
Material Facts, ECF No. 18-9, ¶¶ 53-58. The pension
fund also determined that Defendant owed $1, 604.93 in
delinquent contributions, interest, liquidated damages, and
audit testing fees for its recreational employees.
Id. at ¶¶ 59-65. Accordingly, Plaintiffs
contend that Defendant owes a total of $1, 668.16 in
delinquent contributions, interest, liquidated damages, and
audit testing fees based on the 2013-2013 audit. Defendant
disputes this amount, contending that it made all required
payments during this timeframe. Def.'s Res. To Pls.'
Statement of Material Facts, ECF No. 19-1, ¶ 105.
August 15, 2017, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit under ERISA to
collect $34, 383.66 in allegedly unpaid contributions,
interest, liquidated damages, audit testing fees. See
generally Compl., ECF No. 1. The parties subsequently
engaged in discovery. See generally Joint Discovery
Plan, ECF No. 15. Plaintiffs have now moved for summary
judgment. See generally, Pls.' Mot, ECF No. 18.
judgment is appropriate where “the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The mere existence of some factual
dispute is insufficient on its own to bar summary judgment;
the dispute must pertain to a “material” fact.
Id. Accordingly, “[o]nly disputes over facts
that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Nor may summary judgment be avoided
based on just any disagreement as to the relevant facts; the
dispute must be “genuine, ” meaning that there
must be sufficient admissible evidence for a reasonable trier
of fact to find for the non-movant. Id.
order to establish that a fact is or cannot be genuinely
disputed, a party must (a) cite to specific parts of the
record-including deposition testimony, documentary evidence,
affidavits or declarations, or other competent evidence-in
support of its position, or (b) demonstrate that the
materials relied upon by the opposing party do not actually
establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Conclusory assertions offered without
any factual basis in the record cannot create a genuine
dispute sufficient to survive summary judgment. See
Ass'n of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO v. U.S. Dep't
of Transp., 564 F.3d 462, 465-66 (D.C. Cir. 2009).
Moreover, where “a party fails to properly support an
assertion of fact or fails to properly address another
party's assertion of fact, ” the district court may
“consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the
motion.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
faced with a motion for summary judgment, the district court
may not assess credibility or weigh evidence; instead, the
evidence must be analyzed in the light most favorable to the
non-movant, with “all justifiable inferences ... drawn
in his favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
“‘If material facts are at issue, or though
undisputed, are susceptible to divergent inferences, summary
judgment is not available.'” Moore v.
Hartman, 571 F.3d 62, 66 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (quoting
Kuo-Yun Tao v. Freeh, 27 F.3d 635, 638 (D.C. Cir.
1994)). In the end, the district court's task is to
determine “whether the evidence presents a sufficient
disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52. In this
regard, the non-movant must “do more than simply show
that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “If the
evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly
probative, summary judgment may be granted.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (internal citations
bring this case seeking delinquent contributions and other
damages under Section 515 of ERISA which provides that
“[e]very employer who is obligated to make
contributions to a multiemployer plan under the terms of the
plan or 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 plan or such agreement.” 29 U.S.C. § 1145.
This section of ERISA “makes a federal obligation of an
employer's contractual commitment to contribute to a
multiemployer pension fund.” Flynn v. R.C.
Tile, 353 F.3d 953, 958 (D.C. Cir. 2004). Accordingly,
it is “well-established that the failure to make
contributions to a union trust fund as required by a
collective bargaining agreement constitutes a violation of
ERISA § 515.” Int'l Painters & Allied
Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Davanc Contracting, Inc.,
808 F.Supp.2d 89, 95 (D.D.C. 2011) (internal quotations
omitted). Moreover, when a Court determines that an employer
violated Section 515 of ERISA by failing to make
contributions to a pension fund as required by a collective
bargaining agreement or by the pension fund's documents,
the plan is entitled to recover the contributions, interest,
liquidated damages, reasonable attorneys' fees and costs,
and all other appropriate equitable relief. 29 U.S.C. §
move for summary judgment as to all known outstanding
contributions, liquidated damages, interest, and audit
testing fees in the amount of $34, 383.66 plus attorneys'
fees and costs and additional accrued interest. Defendant has
two primary arguments as to why the Court should not grant
summary judgment. First, Defendant contends that it was not
required to pay the increased rate for supplemental
contributions between September 2015 and April 2017. But, the
Court concludes that Defendant was required to make
supplemental contributions at the increased rate based on the
MPRA. Second, Defendant claims that there are genuine
disputes of material fact as to the alleged damages owed.
But, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have produced
sufficient evidence proving that they are entitled to the
requested $34, 383.66 in damages and Defendant has not
provided contrary evidence. In addition to monetary damages,
the Court also concludes that Plaintiffs have established
that injunctive relief requiring Defendant to act in
accordance with the collective bargaining agreements, the
pension fund's documents, and federal law is appropriate.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is
Applicability of the MPRA to Defendant's Supplemental
Court will first address whether or not Defendant was
required to pay an increased rate for supplemental
contributions to the pension fund pursuant to the MPRA
between September 2015 and April 2017. Due to the pension
fund's critical status, Defendant was obligated to make
supplemental contributions under the rehabilitation plan. Ex.
5, ECF No. 18-5 (explaining the rehabilitation plan to
employers). The parties dispute the amount of supplemental
contributions owed between September 2015 and April 2017. As