St. Louis - Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council et al v. Earl Banze Construction Co., Inc.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs' motion for default judgment [Doc. # 9 ] is granted. A separate judgment will be entered this same date. Signed by District Judge Carol E. Jackson on 12/12/2016. (CLO)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ST. LOUIS-KANSAS CITY CARPENTERS
REGIONAL COUNCIL, et al.,
EARL BANZE CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., )
Case No. 4:16-CV-1196-CEJ
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment,
[Doc. #9], pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2).
Plaintiffs bring this action to collect delinquent fringe benefit contributions
pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1974 (LMRA), as
amended, 29 U.S.C. § 185, and pursuant to Section 502 of the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 1132.
Plaintiffs are the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, four employee
benefit plans (the Pension, Health and Welfare, Vacation, and Training Funds) and
their trustees (collectively, the plans). Defendant Earl Banze Construction Co., Inc.
is an employer in an industry affecting commerce within the meaning of the LMRA
Defendant employs individuals who are members of the St. Louis-Kansas City
Carpenters Regional Council (the Union). Plaintiffs allege that defendant failed to
make all its required contributions to the funds and forward to the Union all the
deducted dues, as required under the terms of the collective bargaining agreements
between defendant and the Union. [Doc. #1 at 4].
Plaintiffs filed the instant case on July 21, 2016. Service was achieved on
defendant on July 26, 2016. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(a)(1)(A)(i),
defendant was required to file an answer or other responsive pleading within
twenty-one days of being served with the complaint. Because defendant failed to do
so, the Court ordered that the plaintiff file motions for entry of default on August
25, 2016. [Doc. #4]. The plaintiffs failed to comply with that deadline and the Court
dismissed the action on October 20, 2016. Plaintiffs later informed the Court that
they filed for default under the wrong case number, and the Court vacated its
dismissal order. [Doc. #7]. The plaintiffs then filed a motion for default judgment
on November 1, 2016. [Doc. #9]. Defendant did not respond.
Pursuant to Rule 55, default judgment is appropriate when “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). Granting default judgment is within a district court’s discretion. See Weitz
Co, LLC v. MacKenzie House, LLC, 665 F.3d 970, 977 (8th Cir. 2012).
When a party defaults, “the factual allegations of a complaint (except those
relating to the amount of damages) are taken as true, but ‘it remains for the court
to consider whether the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action,
since a party in default does not admit mere conclusions of law.’” Murray v. Lene,
595 F.3d 868, 871 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting 10A Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal
Practice and Procedure: Civil § 2688, at 63 (3d ed. 1998)). “The court may conduct
hearings or make referrals . . . when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to:
(A) conduct an accounting; (B) determine the amount of damages; (C) establish
the truth of any allegation by evidence; or (D) investigate any other matter.” Fed.
R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). However, where “the findings and judgment regarding damages
in the instant case are capable of being computed on the basis of facts of record . .
. the district court need not hold an evidentiary hearing on the issue of damages.”
Taylor v. City of Ballwin, Mo., 859 F.2d 1330, 1333 (8th Cir. 1988) (internal
quotation and citation omitted).
ERISA provides that employers shall make contributions when required by
the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. 29 U.S.C. § 1145. Employers who
fail to make the required contributions may be liable for the unpaid contributions,
interest, liquidated damages (or the value of the interest again, where that amount
is greater than the liquidated damages, or where liquidated damages have not been
provided for), attorneys’ fees, and costs. Id. § 1132(g)(2).
On June 3, 2013, defendant agreed to be bound by the terms of the
Missouri/Illinois Independent Building Contractors agreement with the Union (the
Agreement), as well as the Missouri/Illinois Independent Area Addendum [Doc. #10
at 1; Doc. #9-2 at 1; Doc. #9-3; Doc. #9-5]. The Agreement requires defendant to
contribute to the funds at the appropriate rate for each hour worked by each
covered employee. [Doc. #9-3 at Art. VIII § 8.01(a)]. It also provides that the
employee must withhold from wages employee contributions at the appropriate
hourly rate and submit the same to the relevant vacation fund. Id. at Art. VIII §
8.01(b). The Agreement’s addendum mandates that defendant must furnish
remittance reports to ensure that contributions can be credited to employees’
accounts. [Doc. #9-5 at 11]. The Agreement also incorporates by reference the
plans’ trust documents, which provide that failure to make timely contributions
contributions, liquidated damages, interest, court costs, and attorneys’ fees. [Doc.
#9-3 at Art. XIII § 9.01]. Plaintiffs are further authorized to audit defendant’s
payroll and related records, and invoke written collection policies, including advance
cash deposits. Id.
Plaintiffs submit the affidavit of Juli Laramie, the accountant and controller
for the funds. [Doc. #9-2 at 1]. Laramie asserts that defendant has failed to
purchase required fringe benefit stamps, which allow for contributions to the benefit
funds. [Doc. #9-2 at 1–2]. She also avers that for the period between April 20,
2016, and October 12, 2016, and after applying credits,1 defendant owes
$64,937.50 in unpaid fringe benefit contributions, $697.41 in interest, and
$4,224.09 in liquidated damages. [Doc. #9-2 at 3]. In total, she claims, defendant
owes $69,859.00. Id. Plaintiffs submit an exhibit showing the results of a payroll
audit for the period of April 20, 2016, through October 12, 2016. This exhibit
confirms the quantities of unpaid fringe benefits, interest, and liquidated damages
provided by Laramie in her affidavit. [Doc. #9-7].
Plaintiffs also submit the affidavit of attorney Greg A. Campbell. [Doc. #9-1].
According to Mr. Campbell, the standard hourly billing rates in delinquency matters
are $190.00 for partners and $100.00 for legal assistants. Id. He stated that he
Laramie credits defendant with $6,200.00 garnished from its bank account in another case,
as well as $3,582.61 he has already deposited. [Doc. #9-2 at 2].
performed a total of 3.6 hours of services and that his legal assistant, Jamie C.
Buckley, performed 1.0 hour of work. Id. Accordingly, legal services resulted in
$784.00 in fees.2 [Doc. #9-1 at 2]. In addition, the firm paid $400.00 for the filing
fee and $116.76 for service of process, for a total of $516.76, to which plaintiffs are
Based on the documentation and affidavits submitted by plaintiffs, the Court
finds that defendant Earl Banze Construction Co., Inc. was bound at all relevant
times by a valid collective bargaining agreement and that it breached its obligations
by failing to timely pay the required contributions. Plaintiffs have established that
defendant is liable to them for $64,937.50 in unpaid fringe benefit contributions,
$697.41 in interest, and $4,224.09 in liquidated damages, for a total of
$69,859.00. Plaintiffs have also established defendant is liable to them for
$1,300.76 in legal fees and costs. Therefore, judgment will be entered in favor of
plaintiffs and against defendant in the sum of $71,159.76.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment
[Doc. #9] is granted.
A separate judgment will be entered this same date.
CAROL E. JACKSON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 12th day of December, 2016.
The arithmetic in Mr. Campbell’s affidavit is incorrect, as he claims a total of $884.00 in
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