Trustees Of The New York City District Council Of Carpenters Pension Fund, Welfare Fund, Annuity Fund, and Apprenticeship, Journeyman Retraining, Educational and Industry Fund et al v. Interior Cinema Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: For the reasons stated above, plaintiffs' petition to confirm the arbitration award (ECF No. 1), which this Court considers an unopposed motion for summary judgment, is GRANTED in full. Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that: 1. The June 26, 2017 arbitration award is confirmed in all respects. The Clerk of Court is accordingly directed to enter judgment in favor of plaintiffs and against defendant in the amount of $9,706.86 ($9,557.80 , plus $149.06 in interest). 2. The Clerk of Court is directed to enter judgment in favor of plaintiffs and against defendant in the amount of $645 for attorney's fees and costs arising out of this action. 3. Defendant shall pay post-judgment interest on the total award of $10,351.86 at the applicable rate set out in 28 U.S.C. § 1961. Such interest shall accrue from the date of this order. The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate this action. (Signed by Judge Katherine B. Forrest on 10/4/2017) (mro)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
TRUSTEES OF THE NEW YORK CITY
DISTRICT COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS
PENSION FUND, WELFARE FUND,
ANNUITY FUND, AND APPRENTICESHIP, :
EDUCATIONAL AND INDUSTRY FUND,
TRUSTEES OF THE NEW YORK CITY
CARPENTERS RELIEF AND CHARITY
FUND, THE NEW YORK CITY AND
VICINITY CARPENTERS LABOR:
MANAGEMENT CORP., and THE NEW
YORK CITY DISTRICT COUNCIL OF
INTERIOR CINEMA INC.,
DOC #: _________________
DATE FILED: October 4, 2017
OPINION & ORDER
KATHERINE B. FORREST, District Judge:
Before the Court is plaintiffs’ motion to confirm an arbitration award against
defendant in the amount of $9,557.80 plus interest. (ECF No. 1.) Despite ample
opportunity to do so, defendant has not responded, moved against, or otherwise
responded to plaintiffs’ petition. Accordingly, the Court treats plaintiffs’ petition as
an unopposed motion for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, the
Court hereby GRANTS plaintiffs’ petition to confirm the arbitration award in full.
Plaintiffs are: (1) trustees and fiduciaries of multi-employer management
trust funds (the “Funds”) organized and operated under the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”); (2) trustees of a charitable organization
organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; (3) a not-for-profit
corporation; and (4) a labor union representing employees under Section 501 of the
Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (“LMRA”). (Pet. to Confirm an
Arbitration Award (“Pet.”) ¶¶ 4-7, ECF No. 1.) Defendant is a New York
corporation and employer under Section 501 of the LMRA. (Id. ¶ 8.)
On or around October 1, 1998, defendant executed an agreement with the
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (the “International
Agreement”). (Id. ¶ 9; International Agreement, ECF No. 1-1.) Pursuant to the
International Agreement, defendant is also bound by an Independent Building
Construction Agreement (the “CBA”), which requires defendant to make
contributions to the Funds at predetermined rates and times. (Pet. ¶¶ 10-11; see
generally Independent Building Construction Agreement (“CBA”), ECF No. 1-2.)
Under the CBA, in the event of “any dispute or disagreement . . . between the
parties . . . either party may seek arbitration of the dispute before the impartial
arbitrator designated hereunder[.]” (Pet. ¶ 13; CBA at 43.) The CBA also provides
that in the event a court renders judgment in favor of the Funds, the employer is
required to pay: (1) unpaid contributions; (2) interest (calculated at prime rate of
Citibank plus two percent); (3) the greater of interest (as previously calculated) or
20% liquidated damages; (4) reasonable attorney’s fees and costs; and (5) other legal
or equitable relief as deemed appropriate. (Pet. ¶ 14; CBA at 42-43.)
The instant action concerns whether defendant has made the required
contributions. Following an audit of defendant’s contributions covering the period
October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2016, which revealed certain delinquencies,
plaintiffs initiated arbitration by serving a “Notice of Hearing” on March 15, 2017
and June 6, 2017. (Id. ¶ 16.) An arbitration hearing was held before Roger E.
Maher on June 22, 2017, but defendant did not appear. (Id. ¶ 17; Op. and Default
Award of Arbitrator (“Arbitration Op.”) at 1-2, ECF No. 1-4.) Based on the evidence
produced by plaintiffs at the hearing, the arbitrator found in favor of the plaintiffs
in the amount of $9,557.80, with interest to accrue at the rate of 5.75% from the
date of the award, which was June 26, 2017. (Op. and Default Award of Arbitrator
at 2-3.) To date, defendant has not paid any portion of the award. (Pet. ¶ 20.)
On August 28, 2017, plaintiffs filed the instant action pursuant to Section
301(c) of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185.
Defendant was served on August 31, 2017, but has, again, not appeared. (ECF No.
10.) On August 31, 2017, this Court directed defendant to respond to plaintiffs’
petition not later than Friday, September 29, 2017. (ECF No. 8.) Defendant was
served with that order on September 5, 2017. (ECF No. 9.) Defendant has not filed
A. Confirmation of Arbitration Award
The Second Circuit has held that “default judgments in confirmation/vacatur
proceedings are generally inappropriate.” D.H. Blair & Co., Inc. v. Gottdiener, 462
F.3d 95, 109 (2d Cir. 2006). Because “[a] motion to confirm . . . an award is
generally accompanied by a record, such as an agreement to arbitrate and the
arbitration award decision itself . . . the judgement the court enters should be based
on the record.” Id. Accordingly, an unopposed motion to confirm an arbitration
award and accompanying record should be treated “as akin to a motion for
summary judgment based on the movant’s submissions.” Id.
It is well-established that “judicial review of an arbitration award is narrowly
limited.” Barbier v. Shearson Lehman Hutton Inc., 948 F.2d 117, 120 (2d Cir.
1991); see also Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter, 133 S. Ct. 2064, 2068 (2013)
(“Under the FAA, courts may vacate an arbitrator's decision only in very unusual
circumstances.”) (internal quotation omitted). “Normally, confirmation of an
arbitration award is ‘a summary proceeding that merely makes what is already a
final arbitration award a judgment of the court[.]’” D.H. Blair, 462 F.3d at 110
(quoting Florasynth, Inc. v. Pickholz, 750 F.2d 171, 176 (2d Cir. 1984)). An award
can only be vacated when one of four circumstances is found to exist, namely: (1) the
award was procured by corruption or fraud; (2) the arbitrator was partial or corrupt;
(3) the arbitrator engaged in misconduct resulting in prejudice; or (4) the arbitrator
exceeded his powers. Barbier, 948 F.2d at 120-21; 9 U.S.C. § 10.
B. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment may be granted when a movant shows, based on
admissible evidence in the record, “that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating “the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court construes all evidence in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draws all inferences and
resolves all ambiguities in its favor. Dickerson v. Napolitano, 604 F.3d 732, 740 (2d
Cir. 2010). The Court's role is to determine whether there are any triable issues of
material fact, not to weigh the evidence or resolve any factual disputes. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).
A court may not grant summary judgment merely because a motion is
unopposed. See Vermont Teddy Bear Co., Inc. v. 1-800 Beargram Co., 373 F.3d 241,
244 (2d Cir. 2004); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) (stating that when a non-moving
party fails to oppose a summary judgment motion, “summary judgment, if
appropriate, shall be entered against” him) (emphasis added). Instead, the Court
must examine record to determine if the moving party “has met its burden of
demonstrating that no material issue of fact remains for trial.” See Vermont Teddy
Bear, 373 F.3d at 244 (quoting Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677, 681 (2d Cir. 2001)).
Even an unopposed motion for summary judgment fails “where the undisputed facts
fail to ‘show that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.’” Id.
(quoting Champion v. Artuz, 76 F.3d 483, 486 (2d Cir. 1996)).
Plaintiffs filed the instant petition to confirm an arbitration award on August
28, 2017 (ECF No. 1), and per this Court’s order dated August 31, 2017, defendant’s
response was due not later than September 29, 2017. (ECF No. 8.) Because
defendant has not filed an opposition or otherwise responded or appeared in this
action, plaintiffs’ petition is properly considered as an unopposed motion for
summary judgment.1 See D.H. Blair, 462 F.3d at 109.
Based on its review of plaintiffs’ petition and the documents attached thereto,
the Court concludes that there are no triable issues of material fact, and that
plaintiffs are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The undisputed evidence
demonstrates that: (1) defendant is bound by the terms of the International
Agreement and the CBA; (2) the CBA provides for arbitration of disputes regarding
the employer’s contributions to the Funds (CBA at 43-44); (3) plaintiffs duly
initiated arbitration concerning defendant’s delinquent contributions (Notice of
Hearing, ECF No. 1-3); (4) an arbitration hearing was held on June 22, 2017
(Arbitration Op. at 1); and (5) on June 26, 2017, the arbitrator issued an award in
favor of plaintiffs in the amount of $9,557.80, with interest to accrue at an annual
rate of 5.75%, and damages are therefore readily ascertainable from the pleadings
The Court additionally notes that the defendant did not appear during the underlying arbitration.
(Arbitrator Op. at 1-2.)
(Arbitration Op. at 2-3). There is absolutely no evidence that the arbitrator’s award
was the result of fraud, corruption, misconduct, or any of the other impermissible
grounds set out in 9 U.S.C. § 10. Accordingly, the arbitrator’s award is confirmed in
Plaintiffs’ petition further requests (1) judgment in the aggregate amount of
$645 for attorney’s fees and costs arising out of this action; and (2) post-judgment
interest at the statutory rate. Per the express terms of the CBA, plaintiffs’ request
for attorney’s fees and costs is justified and therefore GRANTED. (CBA at 42.)
Plaintiffs are also entitled to post-judgment interest, which is awarded as a matter
of course for any civil money judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 1961(a) (“Interest shall be
allowed on any money judgment in a civil case recovered in a district court.”) As
such, plaintiffs’ request for post-judgment interest is GRANTED.
For the reasons stated above, plaintiffs’ petition to confirm the arbitration
award (ECF No. 1), which this Court considers an unopposed motion for summary
judgment, is GRANTED in full. Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that:
1. The June 26, 2017 arbitration award is confirmed in all respects. The
Clerk of Court is accordingly directed to enter judgment in favor of
plaintiffs and against defendant in the amount of $9,706.86 ($9,557.80,
plus $149.06 in interest)2.
The Court applied an annual interest rate of 5.75% (per the arbitration award) up until the date of
this judgment. The statutory post-judgment interest rate shall apply from the date of this judgment
2. The Clerk of Court is directed to enter judgment in favor of plaintiffs and
against defendant in the amount of $645 for attorney’s fees and costs
arising out of this action.
3. Defendant shall pay post-judgment interest on the total award of
$10,351.86 at the applicable rate set out in 28 U.S.C. § 1961. Such
interest shall accrue from the date of this order.
The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate this action.
New York, New York
October 4, 2017
KATHERINE B. FORREST
United States District Judge
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