TRUSTEES OF THE TEAMSTERS PENSION TRUST FUND OF PHILADELPHIA AND VICINITY v. SHEINMAN PROVISION CO.
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE EDMUND V. LUDWIG ON 7/27/12. 7/31/12 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(mbh, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
TRUSTEES OF THE TEAMSTERS
PENSION TRUST FUND OF
PHILADELPHIA AND VICINITY
SHEINMAN PROVISION CO.
July 27, 2012
This is an ERISA case, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. Jurisdiction is federal
question. 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Plaintiffs, the Trustees of the Teamsters Pension Trust Fund of
Philadelphia and Vicinity, commenced this action against defendant
Sheinman Provision Co. alleging withdrawal liability under Sections
502(g)(2) and 4301(e) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(g)(2) and 1451(e), in the
amount of $255,762.91.
On June 14, 2012, summary judgment was
entered in favor of plaintiffs and against defendant. See June 14, 2012
order, docket no. 16.
The order included an award of interest on the
principal amount, reasonable costs and attorneys fees. Id. On June 20,
2012, plaintiffs filed their “Motion for Interest, Attorney’s Fees and Costs.”
Docket no. 17.1 For the following reasons, the motion will be granted and
Defendant did not file any opposition to the motion.
plaintiffs will be awarded interest of $8,312.29 and attorney’s fees and costs
“Section 4301(b) of ERISA provides that the failure of an employer to
to make a timely withdrawal liability payment should be treated in the same
manner as delinquent contributions. 29 U.S.C. § 1451(b). [ ] Section 502
of ERISA requires a district court to award interest, liquidated damages, and
reasonable attorney’s fees and costs when a plan successfully enforces a
demand for delinquent payments. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2).” Anker Energy
Corp. v. Consolidation Coal Co., 177 F.3d 161, 179 (3d Cir. 1999). These
awards are mandatory. Id. n.9 (citations omitted).
According to the “Declaration of Matthew D. Areman, Esquire,”
appended to plaintiffs’ motion, interest on the withdrawal liability awarded $255,762.91 - calculated from the date of default of June 27, 2011, at the
rate of 3.5% is $8,312.29.2
Section 502 of ERISA requires an award of attorneys’ fees where a
defendant has been found in violation of Section 515. Penn Elastic Co. v.
This is the rate established by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. See 29 CFR §
United Retail & Wholesale Employees Union Local 115 Joint Pension Plan,
792 F.2d 45, 48 (3d Cir. 1986) (“[A]ttorney’s fees are mandatory, not
discretionary when a pension plan prevails in an action for withdrawal
liability payments.”) The starting point for calculating the reasonableness
of the attorney’s fees requested is the lodestar. Hahnemann Univ Hosp. v.
All Shore, Inc., 514 f.3d 300, 310 (3d Cir. 2008), citing UAW Local 259 Soc.
Sec. Dept. v. Metro Auto Ctr., 501 F.3d 283, 290 (3d Cir. 2007) (“Under the
lodestar approach, a court determines the reasonable number of hours
expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.”)
“Generally, a reasonable hourly rate is to be calculated according to
the prevailing market rates in the relevant community.”
Dellarciprete, 892 F.2d 1177, 1183) (3d Cir. 1990).
submitted the Declaration of Matthew D. Areman, Esquire, an associate at
Markowitz & Richman, who represented plaintiffs throughout this action.
Mr. Areman’s fee was $300 per hour. His firm specializes in labor and
employment law, and his fee, which is somewhat high, appears reasonable.
See Carpenters Pension & Annuity Plan v. Grosso, No. 07-5013, 2009 WL
2431340, at *7 (E.D. Pa., Aug. 6, 2009) (hourly rate for associate of $230
was reasonable in ERISA case).
“A request for fees must be accompanied by ‘fairly definite information
as to hours devoted to various general activities, e.g., partial discovery,
settlement negotiations, and the hours spent by various classes of
attorneys.” UAW Local 529, 501 F.3d at 291 (citations omitted). Here, Mr.
Areman’s affidavit includes approximately 33 entries that provide a
narrative description of the task performed and the amount of time, billed
in one-tenth of an hour increments. All of the work was performed by Mr.
Areman. See Declaration. These descriptions contain information sufficient
to assess whether the time spent was appropriate.
appears inflated or unnecessary.
None of the entries
Counsel’s representation included
preparation of pleadings, settlement efforts, and preparation of a motion for
summary judgment. In these circumstances, the number of hours worked 24.60 - is reasonable.
In addition to $7,380 in fees, plaintiffs request costs - for filing fees
and photocopying - of $386. These costs appear necessary and reasonable.
For these reasons, plaintiffs’ motion for interest and attorneys’ fees will
be granted. An order accompanies this memorandum.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Edmund V. Ludwig
Edmund V. Ludwig, J.
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