Wisconsin Pipe Trades Health Fund et al v. Trinity Piping LLC
ORDER DISMISSING CASE signed by Chief Judge Pamela Pepper on 4/27/2021. 50 Plaintiff's second motion for default judgment GRANTED; default judgment of $70,243.27 to be entered against defendant Trinity Piping. 55 Plaintiffs' reques t to withdraw Counts 2 through 8 GRANTED; Defendant Patrick McClain DISMISSED. 56 Plaintiffs' motion to redact GRANTED; Clerk of Court to replace exhibit at dkt. no 52-2 with document filed at dkt. no. 56-1 and lift restricted status of exhibit. (cc: all counsel)(cb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
WISCONSIN PIPE TRADES HEALTH FUND,
Case No. 19-cv-88-pp
WISCONSIN PIPE TRADES 401(K) PLAN,
STEAMFITTERS EDUCATION FUND AND BIG STEP,
AND JOEL ZIELKE (in his capacity as trustee),
BUILDING TRADES UNITED PENSION FUND,
SCOTT J. REDMAN (in his capacity as trustee),
STEAMFITTERS MARKET EXPANSION FUND and
UNITED ASSOCIATION OF STEAMFITTERS LOCAL 601,
TRINITY PIPING LLC and PATRICK MCCLAIN,
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ SECOND MOTION FOR DEFAULT
JUDGMENT AGAINST TRINITY PIPING LLC (DKT. NO. 50), DISMISSING
DEFENDANT PATRICK MCCLAIN, GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO
REDACT DKT. NO. 52-2 (DKT. NO. 56) AND DISMISSING CASE
On June 1, 2020, the court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for default
judgment, concluding that the plaintiffs had failed to provide the
documentation necessary to support an award under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(b)(2). Dkt. No. 47. Weeks later, the plaintiffs filed a motion for
leave to conduct expedited discovery. Dkt. No. 48. The court granted the
motion, set an October 30, 2020 deadline for completing discovery and ordered
the plaintiffs to file their amended motion for default judgment by December
18, 2020. Dkt. No. 49. The plaintiffs filed an amended motion for default
judgment as to Trinity Piping LLC, dkt. no. 50, as well as a motion to redact
docket number 52-2, dkt. no. 56. The court will grant both motions.
Entry of Default
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 requires a two-step process before the
entry of default judgment. The court previously has found that the plaintiffs
properly served both defendants and that they failed to respond. Dkt. No. 47 at
2, 3. The clerk’s entry of default (on September 26, 2019 as to both defendants)
was proper under Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a).
Plaintiffs’ Second Motion for Default Judgment (Dkt. No. 50)
After conducting limited discovery, the plaintiffs revised their request for
damages based on the payroll records obtained for thirty-four former
employees of the Trinity Piping LLC. Dkt. No. 55 at 2. The records did not
support the assertion that Trinity Piping LLC failed to pay contributions from
July 1, 2017 through July 20, 2019, so the plaintiffs have revised their audit
reports to cover the period from January 21, 2018 through September 30,
2018. Id. Stephanie Brester and Renee Borchardt filed amended affidavits,
addressing the discrepancies in prior affidavits. Dkt. Nos. 52, 43. The plaintiffs
also filed the collective bargaining agreement signed by Trinity Piping LLC, the
trust agreements establishing the funds and authorizing liquidated damages
and interest. Dkt. No. 51-1. The plaintiffs seek default judgment on Count One
and wish to withdraw claims Two through Eight. Dkt. No. 55 at 4. Because
Count One contains allegations only against Trinity Piping LLC, dkt. no. 9 at 8,
the court will dismiss Patrick McClain as a defendant.
In the June 1, 2020 order denying without prejudice the plaintiffs’
motion for default judgment, the court found that the plaintiffs had stated a
claim against Trinity Piping LLC for violations of ERISA by failing to make
timely and prompt contributions on behalf of its employees to the funds. Dkt.
No. 47; Dkt. No. 9 (Amended Complaint). Because liability has been
established, the court focuses solely on damages. The second motion for
default judgment and attachments reflect a different amount than the amended
complaint. Compare Dkt. No. 51 with Dkt. No. 9 at 9.
Attorney Alex Sterling filed an affidavit in support of the plaintiffs’
amended request for damages, documenting the request for attorney fees in the
amount of $6,426 and costs in the amount of $56.66 for service of process.
Dkt. Nos. 51, 51-2, 51-3. The amounts requested and hours billed appear
Stephanie Brester, the Financial Manager of Building Trades United
Pension Fund, filed an amended affidavit regarding the audit report she filed
based on the payroll records obtained in discovery, as well as the
corresponding wage sheets. Dkt. Nos. 52, 52-1, 52-2, 52-3, 52-4. She found
that Trinity Piping LLC owed delinquent contributions to the Building Trades
United Pension Fund in the amount of $51,518.30 and currently owes
$29,824.08. Dkt. No. 52 at 3, 4. The interest, which can be awarded under the
trust agreement establishing the Building Trades United Pension Fund, totals
$1,242.52. Id. at 4. Liquidated damages total $3,495.79. Id. The amount owed
to Building Trades Union Pension Fund totals $34,562.39. Id. at 5.
Renee Borchardt, an Administrative Specialist with Benefit Plan
Administration of Wisconsin, filed an audit for the period from January 21,
2018 through September 30, 2018. Dkt. No. 53 at 2. Now, Trinity Piping LLC
owes the Wisconsin Pipe Trades Health Fund $21,588.85 and owes the
Steamfitters Education Fund and Big Step contributions in the amount of
$3,531.03. Dkt. No. 53 at 2. The interest owed Wisconsin Pipe Trades Health
Fund totals $955.76 and the interest owed Steamfitters Education Fund and
Big Step totals $139.54. Finally, the liquidated damages owed Wisconsin
Trades Health Fund total $2,604 and the liquidated damages owed Steamfitters
education Fund and Big Step total $380.04. In sum, Trinity Piping LLC owes
$25,147.61 to Wisconsin Pipe Trades Health Fund and $4,050.61 to
Steamfitters Education Fund and Big Step. Dkt. No. 53.
The court is satisfied to a reasonable degree of certainty that the
plaintiffs have proven their request for damages in the total amount of
Motion to Redact Docket No. 52-2 (Dkt. No. 56)
Several days after filing the amended motion for default judgment, the
plaintiffs filed a motion to substitute a redacted version of Dkt. No. 52-2 to
avoid disclosure of employee Social Security numbers. Dkt. No. 56. The Clerk
of Court restricted the original document so that it can be viewed only by the
parties. The plaintiffs have demonstrated good cause for filing the redacted
exhibit, and the court will grant that motion.
The court GRANTS the plaintiffs’ second motion for default judgment.
Dkt. No. 50.
The court ORDERS that default judgment shall be entered in favor of the
plaintiffs and against defendant Trinity Piping LLC in the amount of
The court GRANTS the plaintiffs’ request to withdraw Counts Two
through Eight. Dkt. No. 55 at 4.
The court ORDERS that Patrick McClain is DISMISSED as a defendant.
The court GRANTS the plaintiffs’ motion to redact Dkt. No. 52-2. Dkt.
The court ORDERS the Clerk of Court to replace on the public docket
Dkt. No. 52-2 with the attachment filed as Dkt. No. 56-1 and lift the restricted
status of that exhibit.
The court ORDERS that this case is DISMISSED. The clerk will enter
Dated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this 27th day of April, 2021.
BY THE COURT:
HON. PAMELA PEPPER
Chief United States District Judge
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