INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES DISTRICT COUNCIL NO. 21 HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND et al v. ZMS ARCHITECTURAL METAL AND GLASS, LLC
OPINION. Signed by Judge William J. Martini on 8/16/16. (gh, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PAINTERS
AND ALLIED TRADES DISTRICT
COUNCIL NO. 21 HEALTH AND
WELFARE FUND 2980 SouthamptonByberry Road Philadelphia, PA 19154 et al.,
Civ. No. 2:16-01213 (WJM)
ZMS ARCHITECTURAL METAL AND
GLASS, LLC 142 FRANKLIN STREET
ELMWOOD PARK, NJ 07407,
THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment
made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b). For the reasons that follow, the
motion will be GRANTED.
This case arises out of an employer’s alleged failure to pay contributions to certain
employee benefits plans that were established under the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3). Those benefits plans (hereinafter, “the
Plaintiff Funds”)1 are named as Plaintiffs in this action. See Complt. at ¶ 1. Defendant
The group of Plaintiffs in this case also includes Joseph Ashdale, who acts as a fiduciary on behalf of the funds at
issue. See 29 U.S.C. § 1002(21)(A).
ZMS Architectural Metal & Gas, LLC (hereinafter, “ZMS”) entered into a collective
bargaining agreement (hereinafter, “the CBA”) with Plaintiff International Union of
Painters and Allied Trade District Council No. 21 (hereinafter, “Plaintiff Union”). See id.
at ¶ 9. The CBA required ZMS to make contributions to the Plaintiff Funds. Id. at ¶ 10.
Pursuant to the terms of the CBA, and through an independent auditor, the Plaintiff Funds
performed an audit, which revealed that ZMS failed to make the appropriate benefit
contributions between December 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. See id. at ¶¶ 12-13. Despite
being notified of its delinquencies, ZMS has failed to make appropriate payments as
required by contract. See id. at ¶ 15.
ZMS was served with the Complaint on March 23, 2016. ECF No. 4. The time for
ZMS to answer or otherwise respond to the Complaint expired. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a).
To date, ZMS has failed to answer or otherwise respond to the Complaint. Pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a), the Clerk entered a default against ZMS on April
14, 2016. Plaintiff served ZMS with notice of their motion for default judgment on June
8, 2016, and filed the motion on June 9, 2016. ECF No. 8. No opposition has been filed.
“Before imposing the extreme sanction of default, district courts must make
explicit factual findings as to: (1) whether the party subject to default has a meritorious
defense, (2) the prejudice suffered by the party seeking default, and (3) the culpability of
the party subject to default.” Doug Brady, Inc. v. N.J. Bldg. Laborers Statewide Funds,
250 F.R.D. 171, 177 (D.N.J. 2008) (citing Emcasco Ins. Co. v. Sambrick, 834 F.2d 71, 74
(3d Cir. 1987)).
Plaintiffs in this case are entitled to default judgment. First, ZMS does not have a
meritorious defense to Plaintiffs’ claims. The record shows that ZMS was required to make
contributions to the Plaintiff Funds in a timely manner. The audit report attached to the
Complaint shows that ZMS has failed to make those contributions from December 1, 2012
through June 30, 2013. Indeed, the audit report reveals that ZMS owes $19,454.22 in
principal contributions. In addition, the applicable delinquency policy – which is attached
to the motion for default judgment – entitles Plaintiffs to pre-judgment interest in the
amount of $2,246.30. Under ERISA, Plaintiffs are also entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs,
which amount to $13,346.06,2 as well as liquidated damages due from the audit, which
amount to $3,890.84. See 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g). The Court cannot see how ZMS could
wage a meritorious defense against Plaintiffs’ claim to those amounts.
Second, Plaintiffs have undoubtedly suffered prejudice due to ZMS’ nonresponsiveness. As discussed above, Plaintiffs are contractually entitled to contributions
from ZMS. In the absence of a default judgment, Plaintiffs will have no means to collect
those contributions. Consequently, the second factor weighs in favor of granting Plaintiffs’
Third, ZMS is the culpable party. Indeed, because ZMS has failed to respond, there
is a presumption of culpability. See Teamsters Pension Fund of Phila. & Vicinity v. Am.
Helper, Inc., No. 11-624, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115142, at *10 (D.N.J. Oct. 5, 2011).
Having found nothing on the record rebutting that presumption, the Court finds that the
This figure includes the cost of conducting the audit.
third factor weighs in favor of default judgment. Consequently, the Court will grant
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment is GRANTED.
/s/ William J. Martini
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
August 16th, 2016
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