Boards of Trustees of Ohio Laborers' Fringe Benefit Programs v. CJ&L Construction, Inc.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION that 6 MOTION for Default Judgment against CJ&L Construction, Inc. be granted and judgment be entered against the defendant in the amount of $10,495.95 in fringe benefit contributions, liquidated damages, and interest; $1,785.00 in attorneys fees; interest from the date of judgment at the rate of 1% per month; and $400.00 in costs. Objections to R&R due by 11/7/2016. Signed by Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp on 10/20/2016. (agm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
Boards of Trustees of Ohio
Laborers’ Fringe Benefit
CJ&L Construction, Inc.,
Case No. 2:16-cv-745
JUDGE ALGENON L. MARBLEY
Magistrate Judge Kemp
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
This matter is before the Court on a motion for default
judgment filed by plaintiff Boards of Trustees of Ohio Laborers’
Fringe Benefit Programs against Defendant CJ&L Construction, Inc.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
recommend that the plaintiff’s motion for default judgment be
The plaintiff organization is comprised of the trustees of
four trust funds that are collectively known as the Ohio
Laborers’ Fringe Benefit Programs: the funds are the Ohio
Laborers’ District Council – Ohio Contractors’ Association
Insurance Fund, the Laborers’ District Council and Contractors’
Pension Fund, the Ohio Laborers’ Training and Apprenticeship
Trust Fund, and the Ohio Laborers’ District Council – Ohio
Contractors’ Association Cooperation and Education Trust.
Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreements pertinent to
this case, Plaintiff is obligated to collect contributions to the
funds, which are administered jointly.
In its complaint filed on July 29, 2016, Plaintiff alleges
that the defendant was an employer who was bound, pursuant to
collective bargaining agreements, to file monthly contribution
reports, permit audits of its financial records, and make monthly
contributions to the Ohio Laborers’ Fringe Benefit Programs on
behalf of all persons employed within the trade and territorial
jurisdiction of a laborer, as defined in the collective
The complaint also alleges that
Defendant breached the agreements by failing to make monthly
contributions in the amount and manner prescribed by the
collective bargaining agreements.
Based upon this alleged
breach, the complaint sought the following relief:
$796.00 in unpaid fringe benefit contributions,
plus liquidated damages, and interest for late and
unpaid contributions, for the months of March and
judgment for an undetermined amount for any unpaid
contributions due to the funds from May 1, 2016 “to
the date of this action and during its pendency, as
may be revealed by an examination of its records,
said damages to include liquidated damages of 10%
and interest at the rate of 1% per month or double
interest, whichever is greater”
a mandatory permanent injunction ordering the
defendant to submit monthly reports and to make
the costs of
(Doc. 1 at 2-3).
In addition, Plaintiff requested that this
Court retain jurisdiction over this case pending the defendant’s
compliance with Court orders and that this Court declare that the
defendant is bound by the collective bargaining agreements and
various trust documents as alleged in the complaint.
the record reflects that the defendant was properly served with
the complaint, it failed to respond.
On August 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed an application for an
entry of default.
The Clerk entered default the following day.
Plaintiff then filed its motion for default judgment on September
Again, despite the passage of time allowed for a
response under the Local Civil Rules, Defendant has not
II. The Motion for Default Judgment
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2) authorizes a court
to enter default judgment against a party whose default has been
entered by the clerk.
Once default has been entered, a
defaulting defendant is considered to have admitted all the wellpleaded allegations relating to liability.
See Antoine v. Atlas
Turner, Inc., 66 F.3d 105, 110 (6th Cir. 1995).
determination of the defendant’s liability does not, however,
automatically entitle the plaintiff to default judgment. “Even
when a default judgment is warranted based on a party’s failure
to defend, the allegations in the complaint with respect to the
amount of the damages are not deemed true.
The district court
must instead conduct an inquiry in order to ascertain the amount
of damages with reasonable certainty.”
Vesligaj v. Peterson, 331
Fed. Appx. 351, 355 (6th Cir. 2009), quoting Credit Lyonnais Sec.
(USA) Inc. v. Alcantara, 183 F.3d 151, 155 (2d Cir. 1999). The
decision to grant default judgment falls within the Court’s
10A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Fed.
Prac. & Proc. Civ. §2685 (3d ed.).
In determining whether to
enter judgment by default, courts often consider such factors as
the amount of money potentially involved; whether
material facts or issues of substantial public importance
are at issue; whether the default is largely technical;
whether plaintiff has been substantially prejudiced by
the delay involved; and whether the grounds for default
are clearly established or are in doubt. Furthermore,
the court may consider how harsh an effect a default
judgment might have; or whether the default was caused by
a good-faith mistake or by excusable or inexcusable
neglect on the part of the defendant.
Id. (footnotes omitted).
Although the court may conduct an
evidentiary hearing to determine damages, such a hearing is not a
prerequisite to the entry of a default judgment if a detailed
affidavit allows a decision on the record.
See Joe Hand
Promotions, Inc. v. RPM Mgmt. Co., LLC, 2011 WL 5389425 (S.D.
Ohio Nov. 7, 2011).
In its motion for default judgment, the plaintiff seeks
$10,495.95 in unpaid fringe benefit contributions through August,
2016 and liquidated damages and interest, plus interest from the
time of judgment at the rate of 1% per month.
In addition, the
plaintiff requests $1,785.00 in attorney’s fees, and costs in the
amount of $400.00, which consists of the filing fee paid in this
Although Plaintiff requested injunctive relief in the
complaint, it does not request such relief in its motion for
It is undisputed that Defendant entered into agreements
obligating it to make employer contributions pursuant to those
Further, it is undisputed that it failed to make
contributions or made contributions in a delinquent fashion and
failed to pay interest as required by the agreements.
the plan and funds at issue fall within the provisions of ERISA,
29 U.S.C. §1002(1) and 29 U.S.C. §1132(g), and LMRA, 29 U.S.C.
The plaintiff supports its claim with an affidavit from its
Contract Relations Manager, Brian Gaston.
Attached to Mr.
Gaston’s affidavit are the relevant collective bargaining
agreement and a memorandum setting forth the amount owed by the
The calculation of the amount owed was made under Mr.
Gaston’s supervision, and it reflects that the $10,495.95 being
consists of $$9,568.90 in unpaid contributions,
$797.03 in liquidated damages, and $130.02 in interest.
The affidavit is sufficient to allow a decision on the
record without an evidentiary hearing.
Based upon the foregoing,
the Court finds that the plaintiff seeks a sum certain in unpaid
contributions, liquidated damages, and interest accumulated
pursuant to the relevant agreement.
The Court also finds that
ERISA allows for recovery of the requested interest in this
Thus, the Court will recommend that the plaintiff be
awarded $10,495.95 in fringe benefit contributions, liquidated
damages, and interest.
29 U.S.C. 1132(g) applies to attorney’s fees and costs.
Here, the plaintiff moves for attorney’s fees pursuant to 29
That statute allows for “reasonable
attorney’s fees and costs of the action, to be paid by the
“The starting point for determining the amount of
a reasonable attorney fee is the ‘lodestar’ amount which is
calculated by multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended
on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate.”
Reliance Med. Products, Inc., 515 F.3d 531, 551-52 (6th Cir.
2008), citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983).
“Where the party seeking attorney fees has established that the
number of hours and the rate claimed are reasonable, the lodestar
amount is presumed to be reasonable fee to which counsel is
entitled.” Id. at 552 (citation omitted).
In support of its request for attorney’s fees, Plaintiff
attaches the affidavit of counsel Steven L. Ball.
Mr. Ball avers
that he worked 7 hours in this matter at a rate of $255.00 per
See Ball Aff. at ¶5.
matter are $1,785.00.
Thus, the attorney’s fees in this
An invoice itemizing the fees is attached
to the motion for default judgment.
The Court has reviewed the
affidavit and the itemized fees, and it concludes that they are
Therefore, the Court will recommend that the
$1,785.00 in attorney’s fees be added to the $10,495.95 owed in
The Court will also recommend that Plaintiff be
awarded $400.00 in Court costs.
For the reasons set forth above, it is recommended that the
motion for default judgment (Doc. 6) be granted and judgment be
entered against the defendant in the amount of $10,495.95 in
fringe benefit contributions, liquidated damages, and interest;
$1,785.00 in attorney’s fees; interest from the date of judgment
at the rate of 1% per month; and $400.00 in costs.
IV. PROCEDURE ON OBJECTIONS
If any party objects to this Report and Recommendation, that
party may, within fourteen days of the date of this Report, file
and serve on all parties written objections to those specific
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made,
together with supporting authority for the objection(s).
of this Court shall make a de novo determination of those
portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.
objections, a judge of this Court may accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made herein,
may receive further evidence or may recommit this matter to the
magistrate judge with instructions.
28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1).
The parties are specifically advised that failure to object
to the Report and Recommendation will result in a waiver of the
right to have the district judge review the Report and
Recommendation de novo, and also operates as a waiver of the
right to appeal the decision of the District Court adopting the
Report and Recommendation.
See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140
(1985); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981).
/s/ Terence P. Kemp
United States Magistrate Judge
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