Local Union No. 124 IBEW Pension Trust Fund et al v. Reynolds Electric, Inc.
ORDER - The Court enters default judgment against Defendant and in favor of Plaintiffs in the total amount of $83,997.28. Signed on 5/2/17 by Chief District Judge Greg Kays. (Strodtman, Tracy)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
LOCAL UNION NO. 124 I.B.E.W.
PENSION TRUST FUND, et al.,
REYNOLDS ELECTRIC, INC.,
ORDER ENTERING JUDGMENT AGAINST DEFENDANT IN THE AMOUNT OF
After Defendant Reynolds Electric, Inc. (“Defendant”), failed to respond to Plaintiffs’
Complaint, the Clerk entered default against it. Plaintiffs moved for default judgment. The
Court granted their motion in part, ordering that Plaintiffs perform an accounting for damages
and submit evidentiary support for their damages request. Now before the Court is Plaintiffs’
Supplemental Brief in Support of Plaintiffs’ Award of Damages, and three supporting affidavits
(Doc. 20). For the reasons set forth below, the Court enters default judgment against Defendant
and in favor of Plaintiffs in the total amount set forth below.
This action centers around seven employee pension benefit plans (“the Funds”), who are
some of the Plaintiffs here. Four other Plaintiffs are the Funds’ trustees.1 The remaining
Plaintiff is the union (the “Union”), which administers the Funds pursuant to certain collective
Specifically, Terral S. Akins and Kenneth C. Borden are trustees of the Local Union No. 124 I.B.E.W. Pension
Trust Fund, Local Union No. 124 I.B.E.W. – N.E.C.A. Annuity and 401(k) Trust Fund, I.B.E.W. Local Union No.
124 Health and Welfare Fund, IBEW Local Union No. 124 Vacation and Holiday Trust Fund, Electrical Joint
Apprenticeship and Training Trust Fund, and Labor Management Cooperation Trust. Salvatore Chilia and Dennis
Quebe are trustees of the National Electrical Benefit Fund.
Defendant, according to the Complaint, employed electrical workers who were Union
As part of this arrangement, Defendant signed the Union’s collective bargaining
agreements and accepted three pertinent obligations. First, Defendant agreed to contribute various
sums per hour per employee to the Funds. Second, Defendant agreed to submit regular written
reports listing the names and hours worked and the amounts contributed for each relevant employee.
The Funds’ trustees were permitted to inspect and make copies of Defendant’s records that pertain
to the employees’ compensation. Third, Defendant agreed to pay the Union supplemental dues,
which were deducted from the electrical workers’ compensation.
Since January 1, 2014, Defendant has failed to submit the necessary reports and to pay the
Funds correctly. Because Defendant has not permitted an accounting, Plaintiffs were unsure of the
exact amount of contributions Defendant owes the Funds. Defendant has not paid the Union any
Plaintiffs sued Defendant under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”)
and the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”). The Funds and their trustees seek money
damages, including the unpaid fringe benefit contributions due under the collective bargaining
agreements, and an order requiring Defendant to maintain records in the future listing the names and
hours worked, and the amounts contributed for each relevant employee. The Union seeks money
damages equal to the unpaid supplemental dues.
All Plaintiffs seek an accounting, interest,
attorney’s fees, and costs.
Plaintiffs served Defendant’s registered agent, Larry Reynolds (Doc. 3). When Defendant
failed to respond to the Complaint, Plaintiffs moved for an entry of default against Defendant (Doc.
5). The Clerk entered default (Doc. 10), and the Court ordered Defendant to show cause why
default judgment should not be entered against it (Doc. 11). Defendant failed to respond, and the
Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment in part, finding against Defendant for each of
the allegations relating to liability (Doc. 13). Specifically, the Court found Defendant violated 29
U.S.C. §§ 1059(a) and 1145 by failing to make contributions to the plans and keep records
regarding employee benefits.
Additionally, the Court found Defendant violated 29 U.S.C.
§ 185(a) by breaching a contract with a union. The Court ordered Plaintiff to file a brief
outlining the evidence in support of their claim for money damages and attorney’s fees,
accompanied by any evidentiary support for these amounts.
On November 8, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a brief and two supporting affidavits outlining the
requested awards. These requests are discussed below.
Plaintiffs are entitled to recover a total of $65,533.32 in unpaid contributions;
$13,107.07 in liquidated damages; and $491.50 in interest.
First, Plaintiffs seek judgment against Defendant for unpaid contributions, liquidated
damages, interest, and costs. Plaintiffs audited Defendant’s business books and records relating
to Plaintiffs’ claims and calculated all unpaid contributions, liquidated damages, and interest
owed for the period September 1, 2015, through February 7, 2016. The audit revealed: (1)
unpaid contributions for this period totaled $65,533.32; (2) liquidated damages totaled
$13,107.07; and (3) interest due totaled $491.50. (Doc. 20-2 at ¶ 8).
In considering a motion for default judgment, the court takes as true all allegations in the
complaint that relate to liability. Murray v. Lene, 595 F.3d 868, 871 (8th Cir. 2010). The court
does not take as true conclusions of law or factual allegations relating to damages. Id. Once
liability under ERISA is established, a court is required to award a plaintiff damages for: (1)
unpaid contributions, (2) interest on the unpaid contributions, (3) liquidated damages, and (4)
reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2).
The plaintiff must prove
allegations pertaining to the amount of damages “to a reasonable degree of certainty.” St.
Louis—Kansas City Carpenters Reg’l Council v. Joseph Constr., Inc., No. 4:16-CV-00929-AGF,
2016 WL 6524342, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 3, 2016) (quoting Painters Dist. Council No. 2 v.
Diversified Drywall Sys., Inc., No. 4:11-CV-1823 CEJ, 2012 WL 6740650, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Dec.
31, 2012)). Plaintiff may prove damages by a sworn affidavit and supporting documentation.
See, e.g., id. at *2-3 (relying on affidavits from accountant and controller of pension funds and
plaintiffs’ attorney to enter damages award for ERISA default); H&R Block Enters. LLC v.
Ascher, No. 4:15-cv-00178-SRB, 2015 WL 5008996, at *4 (W.D. Mo. Aug. 20, 2015)
(“Affidavit evidence is sufficient to support an award of damages for purposes of a default
judgment.”); SSM Managed Care Org., L.L.C. v. Comprehensive Behavioral Care, Inc., No.
4:12-CV-2386 CAS, 2014 WL 1389581, at *2-4 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 9, 2014) (relying on affidavits
of movant’s attorney and executive officer as sufficient to establish attorney’s fees and costs, and
damages from breach of facility provider agreement, respectively).
The Court finds that the sworn affidavits supplied by Plaintiffs are sufficient to prove
judgment should be entered against Defendant for the following amounts:
To Plaintiff Local Union No. 124 I.B.E.W. Pension Trust Fund: $18,771.89 in unpaid
contributions; $3,754.78 in liquidated damages; and $140.79 in interest, for a total of
To Plaintiff I.B.E.W. Local Union No. 124 Health and Welfare Fund: $46,761.43 in
unpaid contributions; $9,352.29 in liquidated damages; and $350.71 in interest, for a total
This award amounts to:
$65,533.32 in unpaid contributions; $13,107.07 in damages; and
$491.50 in interest, for a total of $79,131.89.
An award of $4,865.39 in attorney’s fees and costs is reasonable.
Plaintiffs also request $3,993.40 in attorney’s fees and $871.99 in costs. (Doc. 16 at ¶ 4).
Prior to approving the requested attorney’s fees, the Court must satisfy itself that the fees
are reasonable under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2)(D). The determination of a reasonable
attorney’s fee award under § 1132(g)(2)(D) rests within the district court’s discretion. Greater
Kansas City Laborers Pension Fund v. Thummel, 738 F.2d 926, 931 (8th Cir. 1984).
Here, the summary of services provided by counsel calculates fees at $3,993.40,
representing 19.1 hours billed at $206 per hour. (Doc. 20-4). Fees and costs, including copies,
postage, the filing fee, and a service fee, total $871.99. Id. The Court finds, in light of the
amounts involved and the results obtained for Plaintiffs, this fee request is reasonable. But, it
appears counsel erred by seeking $4,819.65 in attorney’s fees and costs. Compare Newbold Aff.
at ¶ 4 (calculating attorney’s fees and costs to total $4,819.65) (Doc. 20-3), with Newbold Aff.,
Ex. 1 at 1 (showing attorney’s fees totaling $3,993.40 and costs totaling $871.99, the sum of
which is $4,865.39).
Accordingly, the Court corrects this error, and awards $3,993.40 in
attorney’s fees and $871.99 in costs, for a total of $4,865.39.
In sum, the Court enters default judgment against Defendant and in favor of Plaintiffs in
the total amount of $83,997.28. This amount represents $65,533.32 for unpaid contributions;
$13,107.07 in damages; $491.50 in interest; and $4,865.39 in attorney’s fees and costs.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: May 2, 2017
/s/ Greg Kays
GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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