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Local 207 Board of Trustees of Ironworkers Pension Fund v. Penn-Ohio Iron Works, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

December 29, 2017

LOCAL 207 BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE IRONWORKERS PENSION FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PENN-OHIO IRON WORKS, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NOS. 22 & 23]

          Benita Y. Pearson, United States District Judge.

         The parties in this case have agreed to treat briefs they have styled as briefs contemplated by Wilkins v. Batpist Healthcare Systems as cross-motions for summary judgment based on the limited record before the court. ECF No. 28.

         Having reviewed the opening brief of Plaintiffs (ECF No. 22), the reply brief of Defendants (ECF No. 23), and Plaintiffs' reply in support (ECF No. 25), the Court grants summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs Local 207 Board of Trustees of the Ironworkers Pension Fund and Local 207 Board of Trustees of the Ironworkers Annuity filed a two-count complaint against Defendants Penn-Ohio Iron Works, LLC, Christopher Bell, and Isaac Fields. ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs are responsible for collections for the Ironworkers 207 Pension Fund and Annuity Plan, both of which receive fringe benefit contributions from employers. Id. at PageID #: 2. Defendant Penn- Ohio is a signatory to the collective bargaining agreement for Iron Workers Local 207. ECF No. 1-1. An excerpted version of the collective bargaining agreement states that “[f]ull payment of all fringe benefits and assessments shall be made within and not later than fifteen (15) days from the end of the month during which the employment occurred.” ECF No. 1-2 at PageID #: 11.

         Plaintiffs allege that Penn-Ohio has failed to make fringe benefit contributions from October 2015 to the filing of the Complaint. ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 6.

         On June 18, 2015, Plaintiffs and Penn-Ohio entered into a consent judgment, [1] whereby Penn-Ohio agreed to pay Plaintiffs for unpaid fringe benefits contributions, late fees, interest, and attorney fees and costs. ECF No. 1-3. Additionally, Penn-Ohio gave a promissory note for $40, 639.15, and both Bell and Fields signed guaranties on the note. Id. at PageID #: 16-22. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have failed to make the payments required pursuant to the promissory note. ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 4-5. Plaintiffs allege that the unpaid remaining balance on the promissory note was $41, 855.55 at the time of filing, based on an unpaid balance of $36, 665.55, plus liquidated damages, attorneys fees, and interest of $5, 190.00. Id. at PageID #: 6.

         II. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriately granted when the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show “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); see also Johnson v. Karnes, 398 F.3d 868, 873 (6th Cir. 2005). The moving party is not required to file affidavits or other similar materials negating a claim on which its opponent bears the burden of proof, so long as the movant relies upon the absence of the essential element in the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The moving party must “show that the non-moving party has failed to establish an essential element of his case upon which he would bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial.” Guarino v. Brookfield Twp. Trustees., 980 F.2d 399, 403 (6th Cir. 1992).

         Once the movant makes a properly supported motion, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate the existence of a genuine dispute. An opposing party may not simply rely on its pleadings; rather, it must “produce evidence that results in a conflict of material fact to be resolved by a jury.” Cox v. Ky. Dep't. of Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 150 (6th Cir. 1995). The non-moving party must, to defeat the motion, “show that there is doubt as to [whether] the material facts and that the record, taken as a whole, does not lead to a judgment for the movant.” Guarino, 980 F.2d at 403. In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party when deciding whether a genuine issue of material fact exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144 (1970).

         The United States Supreme Court, in deciding Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986), stated that in order for a motion for summary judgment to be granted, there must be no genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 248. The existence of some mere factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). A fact is “material” only if its resolution will affect the outcome of the lawsuit. In determining whether a factual issue is “genuine, ” the court must decide whether the evidence is such that reasonable jurors could find that the non-moving party is entitled to a verdict. Id. Summary judgment “will not lie . . . if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. To withstand summary judgment, the non-movant must show sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact. Klepper v. First Am. Bank, 916 F.2d 337, 342 (6th Cir. 1990). The existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position ordinarily will not be sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id.

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiffs' claims focus on two issues: (1) payment of fringe benefits under the collective bargaining agreement; and (2) payment of money due under the promissory note. The Court will address each issue in turn.

         A. ...


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