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Iron Workers District Council of Southern Ohio & Vicinity Benefit Trust v. ALW Construction LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Dayton

June 12, 2018

IRON WORKERS DISTRICT COUNCIL OF SOUTHERN OHIO & VICINITY BENEFIT TRUST., et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALW CONSTRUCTION LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          WALTER H. RICE JUDGE

         This action came before the Court on Iron Workers District Council of Southern Ohio & Vicinity Benefit Trust ("Benefit Trust"), Iron Workers District Council of Southern Ohio & Vicinity Pension Trust ("Pension Trust"), and Iron Workers District Council of Southern Ohio & Vicinity Annuity Trust ("Annuity Trust) (collectively the "Trusts" or "Plaintiffs"), Motion for Default Judgment against Defendants ALW Construction LLC and Michael Wildman (collectively "ALW"). This Court now grants the Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment against Defendants ALW in its entirety.

         This is a suit brought by an employee benefit plan against ALW for ALW's violation of Section § 515 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1145 ("ERISA"). See ECF #1, Complaint. In this case, Plaintiffs seek to recover delinquent employer contributions, pre-judgment interest, liquidated damages, attorneys' fees and costs, and equitable relief pursuant to the provisions of ERISA from ALW. Plaintiffs also seeks an award of post-judgment interest pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 1961.

         On April 11, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the instant action against Defendant ALW. ECF #1, Complaint. The original summonses to the Defendant was issued on the same day. ECF #2, Issuance. On April 17, 2018, the Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint. ECF #3, Amended Complaint. On April 25, 2018, Plaintiffs perfected service of the original summons and complaint on Defendant ALW by certified mail. ECF #6 and #7. On May 3, 2018, Plaintiffs perfected service of their Amended Complaint on Defendant ALW by certified mail. ECF #8 and #9. As Defendant ALW failed to answer or otherwise defend against the Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, the Plaintiffs applied for an entry of default on May 16, 2018. ECF #10, Application. The Clerk made an entry of default against Defendant ALW on May 17, 2018. ECF #11, Entry of Default. As of this date, no answer, motion, or responsive pleading has been filed.

         Plaintiffs were established pursuant to the terms of the Plaintiffs' Amended and Restated Agreement and Declarations of Trust ("Trust Agreements") that were entered into by various labor organizations affiliated with the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, AFL-CIO and various employers, and employer organizations, having collective bargaining agreements with the participating local unions. ECF #3, Exhibits #1-3. The Plaintiffs are maintained pursuant to a Participation Agreement under which employer contributions are made as required by collective bargaining agreements between the participating local unions and signatory employers. ECF #3, Exhibit #4. Accordingly, Plaintiffs are multiemployer plans within the meaning of Section 3(37)(A) of ERISA, Title 29 U.S.C. § 1002(37)(A). Id.

         At all times relevant herein, ALW has been bound to the terms of Participation Agreement. ECF #3, Exhibit #4. The Participation Agreement binds ALW to the Trust Agreements and obligates ALW to make fringe benefit contributions to Plaintiffs. Id. at ¶ 1.Pursuant to the Participation Agreement, ALW is required to make employer fringe benefit contributions to Plaintiffs based on the number of hours worked by ALW covered employees during the month at issue. The Plaintiffs' Board of Trustees has approved and effectuated a Collection and Control Policy for Employer Contributions and Reports ("Collection Policy"), which is applicable when an employer's fringe benefit contributions are delinquent; the Collection Policy provides for the assessment and imposition of both liquidated damages and interest on delinquent fringe benefit contributions. Aff. Gotthardt at ¶ 6.

         When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend as provided in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and that fact is made to appear by affidavit or otherwise, the Clerk shall enter the party's default. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Once the default has been entered, the well-pleaded facts of the complaint relating to liability must be accepted as true. See Stooksbury v. Ross, Case No. 12-5739, 2013 WL 2665596, *3 (6th Cir. June 13, 2013) (treating the factual allegations of a complaint on liability as true because defendant produced no timely responsive pleading); Iron Workers District Council of Southern Ohio & Vicinity Benefit Trust v. Wortman Bros. LLC, Case No. 3:14-CV-00148, 2014 WL 3458563, *1 (S.D. Ohio, Jul. 11, 2014). However, those allegations relating to the amount of damages suffered are ordinarily not accepted as true unless the amount claimed is capable of ascertainment from definite figures contained in detailed affidavits. Dundee Cement Co. v. Howard Pipe & Concrete Prods., Inc., 722 F.2d 1319, 1323 (7th Cir. 1983).

         Plaintiffs are employee benefit plans within the meaning of ERISA, and multiemployer plans within the meaning of Section 515 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1145, which states, "[e]very employer who is obligated to make contributions to a multiemployer plan under the terms of the plan or under the terms of a collectively bargained agreement shall, to the extent not inconsistent with law, make such contributions in accordance with the terms and conditions of such plan or such agreement[.]" ALW is bound by the Participation Agreement, as well as collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs") it has entered into with various labor organizations affiliated with the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, AFL-CIO. Hence, ALW is obligated to abide by the terms of the Trust Agreements, including the provisions that require ALW to make fringe benefit contributions to the Plaintiffs for each hour worked by a participating employee. ALW has failed to contribute to Plaintiffs in accordance with its obligations under the Participation Agreement, the CBAs, and under the Trust Agreements.

         Article III of the Benefit Trust Agreement and Article VIII of the Pension Trust and Annuity Trust Agreements require ALW to make employer fringe benefit contributions to Plaintiffs pursuant to the terms of the Participation Agreement and CBAs. ALW's failure to make such contributions is a violation of Section 515 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1145, for which Plaintiffs are entitled recover owed delinquent contributions, liquidated damages, equitable relief, as well as its reasonable costs and attorney's fees from ALW. Specifically, Section 502(g) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g) provides:

         (2) In any action under this sub chapter by a fiduciary for or on behalf of a plan to enforce section 1145 of this title in which a judgment in favor of the plan is awarded, the court shall award the plan-

(A) the unpaid contributions,
(B) interest on the unpaid contributions,
(C) an amount equal to the greater of-
(i) interest on the unpaid contributions, or (ii) liquidated damages provided for under the plan in an amount not in excess of 20 percent (or such higher percentage as may be permitted under Federal or State law) of the ...

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