Trustees of the National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Welfare Fund et al v. First Responder Fire Protection Corp.

Filing 9

MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Jarrod Hazel on 8/11/2017. (aos, Deputy Clerk)

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FILED -lJ S r'I~T"ICT crll~T IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COUI~-1~S'1 ;1'r'T~ I.' • 0 ':I'-L'~") r'~. I!"ai\ ~I r...\ FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND j. SOllthel'/l Dil'i.\'iol/ TRUSTEES OF TilE NATIONAL AUTOMATIC SPRINKLER INIHJST. WELFARE FUND, l'f :11., '"' ...,. ZO11 A 'G I I A II: 3 0 * * ) Plaintiffs, * v. FIRST RESPONDER FIRE PROTECTION CORPORATION Casc Nn.: (;.111-16--ttlllll * * * Defcndant. * * * * * * * * * I\IEMORANDUI\I The Trustees of the National Automatic Automatic Sprinkler Local 669 UA Education Pension Fund. Sprinkler ("PlaintiITs" Protection * * * * OPINION Sprinkler Industry Welfare Fund. National Fund. National Automatic Sprinkler Pension Fund. and International Industry Training or the "NASI Funds") hring this action against DeICndant First Responder Corporation 197-t ("ERISA"). U.s.c. Industry Supplemental * ~* 1001 ("DeICndant") as amended 1!1.11!1f. under the Employee hy the Multiemploycr Following Defcndant's Retirement Fund Fire Income Security Act of Pension Plan Amendments I~\ilurc to answer or otherwise Act of 19RO. 29 defend in this action. the Clerk of the Court entered del~\lIlt against Defcndant on .June 7. 2017. ECF No. R. Now pending hcli)re the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion li)r Dclault .Judgment against DeICndant pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. 1'. 55(b). ECF NO.7. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 20 J 6). For the reasons that lililow. Plainti It's' Motion Illr Del~\lIlt .Judgmcnt is granted . .Judgment is entered against Dcfcndant in the total amount of $241.609.95. I. BACKGROUND' Thc NASI Funds arc multiemployer ERISA. 29 U.S.c. according ~ 1002(3}. ECF No. I to thc provisions thc NASI Funds ("Trust Sprinkler ofthc Funds arc cstaolishcd and the Collectivc Bargaining laws ofthc at 8000 Corporate First Rcspondcr Statc ofCalitiJrnia. as a contractor Corporation action \\'as and is an cmploycr in thc sprinkler Agreements 28 U.S.c. Plaintiffs as dctincd Firc Sprinkler Bargaining Association. Agrccmcnts cxccutcd Rclations Act ECF No. I ~ 4: ECF No. 7-3';'; 2-8: see ,,/so ECF Nos. 7- and Local Union 483): and lOCI' Nos. 7-15-7-18 and Local Union 669): ECF Nos. 7-10-7-14 and Local Union 709). Pursuant to the Collectivc to pay to thc NASI Funds certain woo werc covcred in turn. octwccn thc Unions and thc between was obligated by ERISA. 29 with thc Unions. \\hich. between employces Defcndant cntcred into agrccmcnts 4-7 -9 (agreemcnts Defendant cxisting undcr thc industry. and at all timcs rclc\'ant to thc in an industry aftCcting commcrcc allege that Dcfcndant Dcfendant Id Thc ~~ 142( 1). (3) and 152(2). See ill oound thcm to thc Collectivc National betwcen ECF No. 1'13. Defendant ~~ 1002(5}. (9). (11). (12) and (14) and by thc Labor-Managcmcnt (LMRA). , 20785. Id Maryland is a corporation ,,'ith oflices located in California. or suocontractor of Trust cstablishing and thc Dcfcndant. Drive. Landover. Firc Protection in Scction 3(3) of and maintaincd and Dcclarations Fittcrs Local Unions No. 483. 669. 709 (..the "Unions") DctCndant U.S.c. 'i 2. Thc bcnetit plans as detincd Rcstated Agrccmcnts Agrccmcnts"). NASI Funds arc administcrcd opcratcs employee oy the Collectivc I The following l~lcts arc taken from the Complainl. urthe Motion for [)cl~1U1t Judgment. ECF NO.7. SlllllS Bargaining bctwccn Agrccmcnts. DetCndant of money for each hour workcd by its Bargaining Agreements. ECF No. I. and Plaintitrs 2 (agrccmcnts (agrccmcnts lOCI' NO.1 '15: see ,,/so IllCllll)randlllll and c.\hibils in SUPP0l1 ECF No. 7-3 'I'i 2-R. According the Collective Bargaining Additionally. Agreements. to thc Complaint. Agreements covered by from March 2015 through the present. lOCI' No. I at all times relevant to the action. Dclendant ECF Nos. 7-19-7-23. (""Guidelincs"). Dcfcndant cmploycd individuals and the Guidelines was bound to the Trust for Participation in the t"ASI Funds lOCI' No. 7-2.-1. lOCI' No. I ~ 7. Under the terms ofthc Trust Agreements. an cmployer becomes two or morc months dclinquent ~i 6. \\hen in making the required contributions. and has not submitted the proper reporting !(mns. the NASI Funds are permitted to project the amount of the employer's delinquency using the 1()llowing I(mnula: [Tlhe greater of (a) the avcrage of the monthly payments or reports submitted by the Employer i(H the last three (3) months I()r which payments or reports were submitted. or (b) the average of the monthly payments or reports submitted by the Employer !()r the last twelve (12) months for which payments or reports were submitted ... ECF No. I 'i 10: sl'l' a/so ECl' required contributions. No. 7-3 ~I 16. Additionally. when an employer lails to timdy pay the employer is obligated to pay liquidated damages under the jt)llo\\ing caleulation: (I) If payment is not received ... by the 15th of the month. 10');(, of the amount lowed J is assessed. (2) An additional 5% is added ifpayment is not received ... by the last working day of the month in which payment was duc. (3) An additional 5'Yo is added if payment is not received by the 15th of the month 1()llowing the month in which payment was due. ECF No. I ~ 14: lOCI' No. 7-3'i 20. Defendant allegedly I~liled to pay complete contributions to the NASI Funds I()r thc months of October 2015. Novcmber 2015. Dccember 2015. January 2016. August 2016. and September 2016. Sl't' lOCI' No. I 'i R. Defendant further lailed to pay complete contributions I()r thc months of July 2016 through November 2016 and did not submit reporting I(mns ItJr these 3 months. !d ~ 8. Using thc abovc-mcntioncd amount of $90.446.20 in delinqucnt 2 1-3 at 1. Adding thc additional Motion Illr Dclault Judgment. NO.7-I dclinqucncy contributions PlaintilTs c1aimcd a total See id from Dcfendant. months of Novcmbcr Plaintiffs Ilmnula. ~I9. II. 15: ECF No. 2016 through Fcbruary 2017. in thc See ECF now claim a re\'ised amount ofSI09.948.42. at 2: ECF No. 7-25 at I J In addition. Dcfcndant's contributions Illr thc months of March 2015 through Scptcmbcr 2015. April 2016. May 2016. August 2016. and Septcmbcr 2016. and partial contributions Octobcr 2015 through January 2016. August 2016. and Scptcmber ECF No. I ~i2. Thc 1 partial contributions 2016 wcrc allcgcdly Illl' paid latc. owcd Illr October 2015 through January 2016. August 2016. and Scptcmbcr 2016. and the contributions 2016 are also late.!d ,; 13. In the MotionllJr owed Illr thc months oUuly Del~llilt Judgmcnt.Plaintiffs 2016 and Octobcr furtbcr claim that contributions owcd li'om N(J\'cmbcr 2016 through February 2017 arc latc. See ECF No. 7-3 Accordingly. pursuant $108.308.82 in liquidatcd Plaintiffs ! damagcs. also scck 521.301.21 unpaid contributions paymcnt. to thc liquidated attorncys' damagcs ECF '0.7-1 Ilmnula dcscribcd abovc. Plaintiffs 'i 19. scck at 2: ECF No. 7-3 ~ 21: ECF No. 7-25 at 1. in intercst assessed at thc rate of twelvc perccnt pcr annum on through March 31. 2017 and continuing fecs of51.466.50 and costs 01'5585.00. to accruc through thc datc of See ECF NO.7 at I: Eel' NO.7-I at Pin ciles 10 documents liIed on the COUI1"S electronic filing system (CMlECF) refer to the page numbers generated bv that system. J ~Althollgh the requested amounts in the Motion for DeHllIlt Judgment differ fromlhe amounts ~laled ill the Complaint. in the Complaint. Plaintirrrcqueslcd as relief"all contributions and liquidated damages \\hich become due subsequent to the tiling orthis action through the date ofjudglllcnt. attorneys' fees .. :' ECF No. Aulomalic I at 6. Accordingly, plus costs, interest. and and as the Court previously reasonable reasollt.:d in li-Jlsle£'s (~rlhe Xal? ",wink/a Indus. lI'e(tilJ"l! f.-und \'. Aliilud!! Fire I'rol.. LI.(', No. (jJ 11-15-2662,2016 \VI. 4082622, at *4 (D. [\'1d. July 2<). 2016) and Trust!!!!s (~rth£' A'at '/ A 1Ifomalic ";willkla Indus. 1I'1.'(I,w£'FUlld I'. IlcilT£'Y. No. GJ 11.15521. 2016 WI. 297425. at *5 (D. Md. Jan. 2 J. 2016). Defendant is fairly regarded to be on notice oCthe subsequent increase due to the continuing bargaining agreclllt:'nts. obligations to make contributions to the Funds under the <lpplicable collective Plaintiffs Corporation December iniliateu the action against Dclenuant on December First Responder 15. 20 I6. ECF NO.1. Summons \\'ere returncu as cxeeuted 29. 20 I6. ECF NO.4. An Ans\\'cr li'om Defenuant With no Ans\\'cr hm'ing beenlilcd. Plaintiffs Fire Protection \\'as due on January on 11. 2017. Id moveu for an entry ofucf~IUIt against DelCnuant on March 16. 2017. ECF NO.6. and the Clcrk entereu ucf~llIlt against Dc fend ant on June 7. 2017. ECr: No. S. Plaintiffs' eonsiuereu Motion for Dclault Judgment. the \\'ell-pleadeu and supporting allegations documentation. ECF NO.7. is nO\\' ripe lilr re\'ie\\'. Ilm'ing of the Complaint. the Court no\\' grants deiliultjudgment Il\\'or of Plainti ffs. in the total amount of $241.609.95. delinquent contributions. ICes of $1.466.50. II. and the Motion fill' Delault Juugment $1 08.30S.S2 in liquidated against DelCnuant anu in broken dO\\I1 as lilllo\\'s: $109.948.42 damages. $21.301.21 in in interest. attorneys' and costs of $585.00. STANDARD OF RF.VIF:\V "When a party against \\'hom a judgment plead or otherwise enter the party's fill' affirmati ve rei ief is sought has flliled to defend. and that lailure is shlmn delllult,'. Fed. R. Civ. 1'. 55(a). "A defendant's entitle the plaintiff to entry ofa dclaultjudgmenl: the court," Edllc. Credit ,lIgmf. Corp, Although by artida\'it I'. or other\\'ise. the elerk must def~llIlt uoes not automatically rather. that decision is leli to the discretion of Op/imllm Weldillg. 285 F.R.D. 371. 373 (D. Md. 2(12). "[tJhe Fourth Circuit has a 'strong policy' that 'eases be decided on their merits:" Choice Ilo/els II/Ierll .. 11Ic'\'. Sl/I'lIIIIIl/h SlltIk/i Cl/rp .. No. DKC-ll-043S. 2011 WI. 51 18328 at *2 (D. Md. Oct. 25. 2(11) (citing Ulli/ed S/l//cs \'. Shl//fer I"lfllip, Co.. 11 F.3d 450. 453 (4th Cir. 1993)). "def~\lilt juugment because of an esscntially 418.421 may be appropriatc unresponsi\'e \\'hen the adversary process has been halted party[,J" Id (citing S.f.e. \'. l.l/Il'hl/lIgh. (D. Md. 2(05)). 5 359 F. Supp. 2u "Upon del~llIlt. the wcll-pled allegations in a complaint as to liability arc takcn as truc. although thc allcgations as to damagcs are not:' L({ll'hallgh. 359 F. Supp, 2d at 422: sec al\() Ryan \', HO/llecol/lings Fin, Network. 253 F.3d 778. 7S0 (4th Cir. 200!) (noling that ..[tlhe delendant. by [its) delilliit. admits the plaintiffs the basis forjudgmcnl). wcll-pleaded allcgations of lilet:' which pro\'ide Upon a finding of liability. "ltlhe court must make an independent determination rcgarding damages. , :. Int 'I Painters & Alliet/7i'(/(les Capital Restomtion & Paiming Int/lls, PellSion FII",I I', Co .. 919 F. Supp. 2d 680. 684 (0, Md. 2(13), Fcd. R. Civ. 1'. 54(c) limits thc typc ofjudgmcnl that may bc cntered bascd on a party's delilult: "1\ dcl~lult judgmcnt must not diner in kind li'om. or cxcced in amount. what is demandcd in the pleadings:' While thc Coul1may hold a hearing to prove damagcs. it is not rcquircd to do so: it may rely instcad on "dctailed aflidavits or documcntary cvidcncc to dctcrminc thc appropriatc sum:' At/kins \' Te.leo. 180 F. Supp. 2d 15. 17 (D.D.C. 20(1) (citing United Artists ('011" \'. Fr('('I//(/I/. 605 F.2d 854. 857 (5th Cir. 1979», III. ANAL YSIS Thc Coul1 has subject matter jurisdiction ovcr this action pursuant to Section 502 of ERISI\. 29 U.S,c. ~ 1132 and 1451(c). Venuc is proper undcr 29 U.S.c. ~~ 1132(c)(2). 1451(d). as NASI Funds are administered in Landover. Maryland, See 1M oj'/i-s .. Sheet ,l/ewl Workers' Nat 'I Pension FII",I Allto/lllltic Sprinkler I'. ,lIeD ,l/ewls, Inc .. 964 F. Supp. 1040 (E.D. Va. 1997): 7i'II.llees oj'Nlil. Indlls. Pension Flint/ I'. Best Allto/lllltic Fire Prot .. Inc .. 578 F. Supp. 94. 95 (D, Md. 1983), Under ERISI\. "[clvery employer who is obligatcd to make contributions to a multiemploycr plan under the terms of the plan or under the terms ofa collectively bargained agreement shall ... make such contributions in accordance with the terms and conditions of such 6 29 LJ.S.c. ~ 1145: see 1M. on;'/I.\/ees. plan or such agrccmenl." Sheet lIe/a/Workers' Na/'/ l'ensio/l F/ll1d \'. Call1e/o/ CO/1.\/r.. 111(' No. I: 14-CV -161-LM 13-TRJ. 2015 WL 1305003 I. at *3 .. (E.D. Va. Apr. 14.2015). thc tcrms ofthc Inthc Complainl. Collective Bargaining Plaintiffs allegc that Dcfendant Agreemcnts and Trust Agrccments to the NASI Funds. but failcd to make timely and complete Plainti~Ts attach the Declaration Automatic Sprinkler contributions its sprinkler for the months of December fitters employees performed in the jurisdiction of Local 4R3. id fillers employees complete contributions assuming the truth of the well-pleaded awarded. allegations of the National February 2017 for work per!tmned 'i 13. and Itlr the by its sprinkler by fillers Eger further attests that DeICndant Itliled to 2016. and t\ovember in the jurisdiction lor the months of December 12-13. 2016 Itlr work of Local 709. and Itliled to pay 2016 through February 2017. Id. in the Complainl. Plaintifls ~i 5. Thus. 1 hm'e established liability under ERISA and tbe relevant Agrecments. Regarding enloree 'i 14. ~,~I R-9. Itliled to pay complete of Local 669. ECF No. 7-3 for the months of July 2016. September by its sprinkler Delcndant"s Fund Administrator 2016 through February 2017 Itlr work perltmned in thc jurisdiction pay contributions 2016 through under to make contributions ECF No. I Industry Pcnsion Fund. who attests that Dclendant months of December employees of John 1'. Eger. Assistant paymcnts. was obligated damages. the payment 29 LJ.S.c. ~ 1132(g)(2) of delinquent contributions. provides that in any action brought to and in which ajudgment inl~l\'or of the plan is the court shall award the plan: (Al (13) (C) I. II. the unpaid contributions. interest on the unpaid contributions. an amount equal to the greater 01'interest on the unpaid contributions. or liquidated damages provided Itlr under the plan in an amount not in excess of 20 percent (or such higher percentage as may be pcrmitted under Fedcral or State law) 7 of the amount determined by the court under subparagraph (A). (D) reasonable attorney's fees and costs of the action. to be paid by the dclcndant. and such other legal or equitable rclief as the court deems appropriate. (E) * 29 U .S.C. 1 132(g)(2): see also Co/zm/hlls Shill" Case Co,. 2014 WL 381 1252. at *4 (E. D. Va. Aug. 1.2(14): 1111'1 Pailllas & Allied hades IlIdm. Pellsioll Flilld \'. Capi/al Res/ora/ioll & & Pipe/illa,1 Na/. Pailllillg Co,. 919 F. Supp. 2d 680. 686 (D. Md. 2013): li'II,INes oj1'llImhas PelJsiolJ Flilld 620300J. I'. Lake Side Plllmhillg & Ilea/illg. IlIc.. No. I:12-CV -00298 LOll DD. 2012 WL at *4 (E.D. Va. Nov. 20. 2(12). In support of the request liJr damages. who attests to a projected delinquency Plainti ffs retCr to the Declaration for the months of July 2016 through Fcbruary 2017 in the amount 01'$103.614.03. using the projection This figure is supported by the attached calculation $4.055.43 for "contributions shortages:' U.S.c. * II32(g)(2)(A). formula described contribution Pursuant Eger attcsts in his Declaration. and accruing to 29 U.S.c. attached documcntation. * II formula described * II 32(g)(2)(C)(ii). 32(g)(2)(B) totaling $21.301.21. earlier. and as in liquidated damages. ECF Additionally. Plaintiffs seck through March 31. 2017. ECF NO.7 and the Trust Agreements. 'i 3. The intercst is and is supported by the see ECF No. 7-25 at 2. Finally. in support ofthcir declarations damages in "contribution ECF No. 7-25 at I: see 29 at twclve percent per annum on unpaid contributions through the date of payment. owed pursuant and $2.278.96 further owes $108.308.82 No. 7-3'; 21: ECF No. 7-25 at I:.Iee 29 U.S.c. interest assessed I\'hich further includes balance of $ 109.948.42. to the liquidated Dclcndant sllpra. ECF No. 7-3 ,,'; 16-17. documentation. owed on behal f of apprentice:' f()r a total delinquent of John 1'. Eger. of their attorncy. claim tor attorneys' Charles W. Gilligan. fees and costs. Plaintiffs submit the ECF No. 7-26. a spreadsheet specifYing the hourly billing by Gilligan and his paralegal with respect to the instant lawsuit. ECF No. 7-'27. and invoices for costs spent on out-of~state process service. ECF No. 7-28. These materials indicate that Gilligan's finn spent 11.25 hours on this case on behalfofPlaintifTs. at a rate of $122.00 per hour fi.)f paralegal time and $310.00 per hour Ii.)rattorncy time. ECF No. 7-26'i 3. These rates are within the local guidelines and are reasonable. See Loc. R. App. B (D. Md. July I. 2016). Plaintiffs are thereli.)re awarded $1.466.50 in attorneys' substantiates fees. The record also the fi.)lIowing expenses: $185.00 fi.)rscrvice of process and $400.00 Ii.)r Iiling Ices. ECF No. 7-26'i 6: ECF No. 7-28. Thus. Plaintiffs arc awarded $585.00 in costs. IV. CONCLUSION For the fi.)regoing reasons. Plaintiffs' Motion fi.)r Defilllit Judgment is grantcd. Judgmcnt is cntered against Defendant and in tilvor of PlaintifT in the total amount of $241.609.95. Additionally. intcrcst shall accrue until thc judgmcnt post-judgmcnt is satisficd pursuant to 28 U.S.c. ~ 1961. A separate Order shall issue. Date: August &/L 1/ . 2017 GEORGE .I. HAZEL United States District Judge 9

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