Laborers' International Union of North America, Local 89, AFL-CIO v. MEK Enterprises et al

Filing 9

ORDER granting 1 Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award; granting 7 Motion for Default Judgment in the amount of $69,181.65. Signed by Judge Roger T. Benitez on 12/5/2017. (anh)

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1 2 FILED 3 4 DEC 0 5 2017 5 CLERK US DIS I HICT COURT SOUTHERN DISl f<ICT OF CALIFORNIA BY <QI ,V\>'\ DEPUTY 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 LABORERS' INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA, LOCAL 89, AFL-CIO, 13 14 15 16 17 Case No.: 3:17-cv-01614-BEN-NLS ORDER: PETITIONER, (1) GRANTING PETITION TO CONFIRM ARBITRATION A WARD; and v. MEK ENTERPRISES, a Delaware Corporation, also known as MEK, also known as MEK Enterprises, also known as MEK Contracting, et al., 18 (2) GRANTING REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT Respondents. 19 20 Before the Court are the Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award and Request for 21 Entry of Default Judgment filed by Petitioner Laborers' International Union of North 22 America, Local 89, AFL-CIO. (Docket Nos. 1, 7.) Respondents MEK Enterprises and 23 MEK Enterprises GOV, Inc. did not respond to Petitioner's petition or default judgment 24 request, and have not made an appearance in this case. For the reasons that follow, 25 Petitioner's petition and request for default judgment are GRANTED. 26 I. 27 28 PETITION TO CONFIRM ARBITRATION AWARD Federal courts have jurisdiction to vacate or enforce compliance with an arbitration award for breaches of collective bargaining agreements pursuant to Section 301 of the I 3:17-cv-01614-BEN-NLS 1 Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. ยง 185. See Kemner v. Dist. Council of 2 Painting & Allied Trades No. 36, 768 F.2d 1115, 1118 (9th Cir. 1985). In considering 3 whether to confirm an arbitration award, "[t]ederal courts should not review the merits of 4 arbitration awards, but rather should merely determine whether the parties agreed to 5 arbitrate the dispute and to give the arbitrator the power to provide for his award." 6 Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. v. Phoenix Mailers Union Local 752, Int'/ Bhd. of Teamsters, 7 989 F.2d 1077, 1080 (9th Cir. 1993). 8 Here, Petitioner alleges its dispute is governed by a collective bargaining 9 agreement, namely the San Diego Unified School District Project Stabilization 10 Agreement - Construction and Major Rehabilitation Funded by Proposition S ("PSA") 11 and the Master Labor Agreement for Building Construction between the Associated 12 General Contractors of America, San Diego Chapter, Inc. and the Southern California 13 District Council of Laborers for San Diego County ("MLA"), which was incorporated by 14 reference by the PSA. (See Docket No. 1, Pet. at p. 3.) Petitioner further alleges 15 Respondents agreed to be a party to, and bound by, the PSA pursuant to "a series of 16 Letters of Assent." (Id. at pp. 3-5.) According to the PSA, failing resolution through the 17 preliminary grievance process, all disputes regarding "[a]ny questions arising out of and 18 during the term of this Agreement involving its interpretation and application" must be 19 submitted to arbitration. (Id. at p. 5; Docket No. 1-2, Ex. 1 at pp. 22-23.) Petitioner 20 asserts that this dispute arises out of Respondents' violations of the PSA and MLA. (Pet. 21 at pp. 5-6.) Respondent, who bears the burden of demonstrating why the arbitration 22 award should not be confirmed, has not appeared in this action. Accordingly, the Court 23 GRANTS the petition and confirms the Arbitrator's award in Petitioner's favor. 24 II. Request for Default Judgment 25 Procedurally, Petitioner has met all of the requirements for entry of default 26 judgment. Default was entered as to Respondents on September 19, 2017, for failure to 27 plead or otherwise defend against the Petition. (Docket No. 6.) There is no evidence to 28 indicate that Respondents are infants or incompetent persons, or that the Servicemembers 2 3: l 7-cv-01614-BEN-NLS 1 Civil Relief Act applies. Finally, the notice of the default was served on Respondents. 2 (See Docket No. 5-1, Declaration of Aaron G. Lawrence~ 2.) Furthermore, the Court finds that the substantive factors set forth in Eitel v. 3 4 McCool, 782 F.2d 1470 (9th Cir. 1986) weigh in favor of granting default judgment. 5 Petitioner will be prejudiced if it has no way of enforcing the arbitration award. The 6 merits and sufficiency of the claims have already been determined by the Arbitrator. The 7 sum is substantial - over $65,000 - and results from Respondents' refusal to pay 8 compensation owed. Respondents have had multiple opportunities to defend themselves 9 and have chosen not to appear. Finally, because entry of default leads to the presumption 10 that Petitioner's allegations are true, and because Respondents have not appeared, there is 11 no dispute as to material facts. In sum, the factors weigh in favor of granting default 12 judgment. Therefore, the Court GRANTS Petitioner's request for entry of default 13 judgment against Respondents. 14 III. 15 Prejudgment Interest Petitioner seeks prejudgment interest at the rate of 10% per annum for the period 16 beginning April 17, 2017 (the date the Arbitrator issued its written arbitration award)' 17 through the date this Court enters judgment pursuant to California Civil Code Sections 18 3287 and 3289. The Ninth Circuit has recognized that "[p]re-judgment interest is 19 governed by state law ... and [California] law provides that pre-judgment interest is 20 available from the date the arbitration panel renders its award." Goldman v. Gagnard, 21 No. 11-CV-3028-LHK, 2011WL13177619, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 27, 2011) (citing 22 Fidelity Fed. Bank, FSB v. Durga Ma Corp., 387 FJd 1021, 1024 (9th Cir. 2004)). 23 California Civil Code Section 3289 sets the statutory rate of prejudgment interest at an 24 annual rate of 10%. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Petitioner's request for 25 prejudgment interest in the amount of $4,134.50, calculated as follows: on damages in the 26 27 28 1 Docket No. 1-8, Ex. 7, Arbitration Award. 3 3:17-cv-01614-BEN-NLS 1 amount of$65,047.15 from April 17, 2017 to the present (232 days) at the annual rate of 2 10%. 3 IV. 4 Attorney's Fees Finally, Petitioner seeks to recover its attorney's fees in the amount of$16,870. 5 "Ordinarily, the prevailing party in a lawsuit does not collect attorney's fees absent 6 contractual or statutory authorization." Sheet Metal Workers' Int 'I Ass 'n Local Union 7 No. 359 v. Madison Indus., Inc. ofArizona, 84 F.3d 1186, 1192 (9th Cir. 1996) (citing 8 Int'! Union ofP.I. W. v. W. Indus. Maint., Inc., 707 F.2d 425, 428 (9th Cir. 1983). 9 Petitioner implicitly acknowledges that it is not entitled to an attorney's fee award under 10 any contractual or statutory authorization. 11 Instead, it relies on the Ninth Circuit's previous holding that "a court may award 12 fees ifit finds that the losing party 'acted in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for 13 oppressive reasons."' (Docket No. 7-1, Req. Entry Default J. at p. 7) (citing Sheet Metal 14 Workers, 84 F.3d at 1192) (emphasis added.) The Court has reviewed the documents 15 proffered by Petitioner to support its request for attorney's fees, but finds an absence of 16 evidence that Respondents have "acted in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for 17 oppressive reasons." 2 Sheet Metal Workers', 84 F.3d at 1192 (quoting Alyeska Pipeline 18 Serv. Co. v. Wilderness Soc 'y, 421 U.S. 240, 258-59 (1975)). Accordingly, Petitioner's 19 request for attorney's fees is DENIED. 20 CONCLUSION 21 For the reasons set forth above, IT IS HERBY ORDERED that: 22 1. 23 Petitioner's petition to confirm arbitration award against Respondents (Docket No. 1) is GRANTED; 24 25 26 27 28 2 The Court acknowledges that other courts have found a party has acted acted in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons by virtue of its failure to comply with an arbitration award, but declines to make such a finding without any other evidence demonstrating such conduct. 4 3: l 7-cv-01614-BEN-NLS 1 2. The Arbitrator's Award (Docket No. 1-8) is confirmed in favor of Petitioner; 2 3. Petitioner's request for entry of default judgment (Docket No. 7) against Respondents is GRANTED; and 3 4 4. Default judgment is entered in favor of Petitioner against Respondents in the 5 amount of$69,181.65, consisting of the $65,047.15 arbitration award and 6 $4,134.50 in prejudgment interest. 7 8 DATED: Decembert:?S:-2017 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5 3: l 7-cv-01614-BEN-NLS

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