Mid-Central Operating Engineers Health & Welfare Fund v. Haltz Construction, Inc.
ORDER & OPINION entered by Judge Joe Billy McDade on 6/7/13. The Court DEFERS ruling on Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment until Plaintiff submits documentary evidence or detailed affidavits to support its claim for damages, or requests and demonstrates the necessity of a hearing to determine such damages, pursuant to the instructions of this Order and Opinion. Plaintiff is ordered to submit such evidence or a request by July 8, 2013 (Misc. DDL). Should Plaintiff fail to do so, the Court will direct judgment to be entered against Defendant in the amount of Plaintiff's costs and attorneys fees only. IT IS SO ORDERED. SEE FULL ORDER. (FDT, ilcd)
Friday, 07 June, 2013 02:03:02 PM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
ENGINEERS HEALTH & WELFARE
HALTZ CONSTRUCTION, INC.,
ORDER & OPINION
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment.
(Doc. 4). Responses to this Motion were due on June 3, 2013; none were filed. For
the reasons stated below, the Court defers ruling on Plaintiff’s Motion for Default
Plaintiff, Mid-Central Operating Engineers Health & Welfare Fund, entered
into an agreement authorizing it to act as a collection agent on behalf of Central
Pension Fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers and Participating
Employers, an employee pension benefit plan under the Employee Retirement
Unless otherwise noted, this background information is drawn from Plaintiff’s
Complaint. (Doc. 1). Upon a defendant’s default in federal court, the well-pleaded
facts relating to liability in a Complaint are taken as true. Dundee Cement Co. v.
Howard Pipe & Concrete Prods., Inc. 722 F.2d 1319, 1323 (7th Cir. 1983); see also
Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(b)(6). Default was entered in this matter on May 17, 2013.
Therefore, the allegations of the Complaint are deemed to be true.
Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”).
(Doc. 1 at 2).
Construction, Inc. and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 841
(“Local 841”) entered into a collective bargaining agreement that obligated
Defendant to make contributions to Plaintiff’s Fund under an “Agreement and
Declaration of Trust.” (Doc. 1 at 1-2). Under the relevant portion of this agreement,
Defendant was required to do the following: 1) submit a monthly report to Plaintiff
stating the names, social security numbers, and total hours worked for every person
on whose behalf contributions were required; 2) remit with the report contribution
payments based on the hourly rate stated in the collective bargaining agreement; 3)
compensate Plaintiff with liquidated damages of fifteen percent for any
contributions which were not timely received by Plaintiff for each month
contributions were due, with an interest rate of nine percent per year from the date
the contribution was due until the date paid; 4) pay any costs incurred by Plaintiff
in auditing Defendant’s records if Defendant was delinquent in reporting or
submitting contributions; and 5) pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if Plaintiff
commenced an action to recover auditing records or delinquent contributions. (Doc.
1 at 3).
On March 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint pursuant to 29 U.S.C.
§ 1132(e)(1) & (2), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), and 28 U.S.C. § 1331, claiming that
Defendant violated ERISA, specifically 29 U.S.C. § 1145. (Doc. 1 at 1). Plaintiff
charged that Defendant breached its obligations to the Fund because it failed to
submit reports and/or to make all contribution payments to Plaintiff, and because
Defendant made untimely payments for those contribution payments that were
made. (Doc. 1 at 3). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant admitted liability for these
past due amounts and issued payment to Plaintiff, but that the payment was
returned due to insufficient funds. (Doc. 1 at 4). Defendant was personally served
with the Summons and Complaint on April 3, 2013, (Doc. 3), but it never answered
the Complaint or otherwise appeared in this action. Thus, on May 17, 2013, the
Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion for Entry of Default against Defendant. Defendant
has still not appeared in this action. Accordingly, Plaintiff now seeks to have this
Court enter a judgment of default against Defendant.
Default judgment establishes, “as a matter of law, that defendants are liable
to plaintiff on each cause of action.” e360 Insight v. Spamhaus Project, 500 F.3d 594,
602 (7th Cir. 2007). While liability may be established from the well-pleaded facts of
the Complaint, “[a] judgment by default may not be entered without a hearing on
damages unless . . . the amount claimed is liquidated or capable of ascertainment
from definite figures contained in the documentary evidence or in detailed
affidavits.” Dundee Cement Co., 722 F.2d at 1323.
These damages must be
ascertained “with reasonable certainty.” In re Catt, 368 F.3d 789, 793 (7th Cir.
Under ERISA, “every 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. Plaintiffs are entitled to bring a civil action to
enforce this provision under 29 U.S.C. § 1132.
Defendant has failed to timely
submit its monthly contribution reports and to timely make its contributions to the
Fund in accordance with the terms of the Agreement and Declaration of Trust it
entered into with Local 841. Accordingly, Defendant is liable to Plaintiff under 29
U.S.C. § 1145.
When a court finds in favor of a plan under 29 U.S.C. §1145, it shall award
the plan unpaid contributions, interest on the unpaid contributions, the greater of
either interest on the unpaid contributions or liquidated damages provided for by
the plan, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, and any other legal or equitable relief
it deems just. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2). Before awarding a default judgment that
includes money damages, however, a court must be satisfied that the moving party
has proven its damages. e360 Insight, 500 F.3d at 602.
Here, Plaintiff alleges in its Complaint that Defendant owes past due
contributions in the amount of $1,687.35, liquidated damages on unpaid
contributions in the amount of $201.60, interest of unpaid contributions in the
amount of $48.11 through date of payment with nine percent annual interest, bank
charges in the amount of $68.00 related to the returned check for insufficient funds,
and reasonably attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $1,480.00. (Doc. 1 at 4-5).
Plaintiff has submitted to the Court an Affidavit prepared by its attorney stating
the amount of attorney’s fees and costs, (Doc. 4-1), and because Plaintiff is entitled
to these fees and costs, judgment will be entered against Defendant for such
amount. Plaintiff has failed its burden to prove any of its other damages, however,
as it has not provided any documentary evidence or affidavits to support any
amounts other than the affidavit for attorney’s fees and costs. Thus, the Court will
not award any other damages until a proper evidentiary submission has been made.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court DEFERS ruling on Plaintiff’s Motion for
Default Judgment until Plaintiff submits documentary evidence or detailed
affidavits to support its claim for damages, or requests and demonstrates the
necessity of a hearing to determine such damages, pursuant to the instructions of
this Order and Opinion. Plaintiff is ordered to submit such evidence or a request by
July 8, 2013. Should Plaintiff fail to do so, the Court will direct judgment to be
entered against Defendant in the amount of Plaintiff’s costs and attorney’s fees
only. IT IS SO ORDERED.
Entered this 7th day of June, 2013.
s/ Joe B. McDade
JOE BILLY McDADE
United States Senior District Judge