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National Electrical Benefit Fund v. Coastal Electric & Environmental Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 18, 2016

NATIONAL ELECTRICAL BENEFIT FUND et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
COASTAL ELECTRIC & ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          George J. Hazel United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is National Electrical Benefit Fund's ("NEBF") and National Electrical Annuity Plan's ("NEAP") (collectively. "Plaintiffs"). Motion to Amend Judgment. ECF No. 13. A hearing is unnecessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons. Plaintiffs' Motion is granted.

         In its Memorandum Opinion regarding Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment, this Court found Defendant Coastal Electric & Environmental Services. Inc. liable for its failure lo submit contributions to NEBF and NEAP that it was "legally and contractually obligated to make." Nat'l Elec. Benefit Fund v. Coastal Elec. & Envtl. Servs., Inc. No. GJH-15-1698. 2016 WL 3221523. at *3 (D. Md. June 7. 2016).

         Plaintiff NEBF was therefore awarded, in relevant part. "S5.629.74 in delinquent contributions; interest in the amount of $1, 564.70: attorney's fees and costs in the amount of S2.803.57: audit fees in the amount of $292.41: and, any additional fees and costs incurred by NEBF in connection with the enforcement of a judgment: interest on all amounts awarded: and post-judgment interest until paid." Id. at 4. Similarly. Plaintiff NEAP was awarded, in relevant part. "S28.960.28 in delinquent contributions; interest in the amount of $7, 670.32; attorney's fees and costs in the amount of $2, 803.57: and. any additional fees and costs incurred by [NEAP] in connection with the enforcement of a judgment: interest on all amounts awarded; and. post-judgment interest until paid." Id. Now. in their Motion to Amend Judgment. Plaintiffs request additional awards of liquidated damages in the amount of $1, 125.95 for NEBF and $5, 792.06 for NEAP. ECF No. 13 ¶ 8.

         Rule 59(e) allows a party to tile a motion to alter or amend a judgment no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment. The Fourth Circuit has recognized three grounds on which a court may alter or amend an earlier judgment: "(1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." United Slates ex rel. Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co.. 305 F.3d 284. 290 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing Pac. Ins, C&. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396. 403 (4th Cir. 1998)). Plaintiffs claim here that the Court previously made an error of law. Plaintiffs are correct.

         In an action to enforce the payment of delinquent contributions under ERISA. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g). a successful Plaintiff shall be awarded:

(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 amount determined by the court under subparagraph (A).
(D) reasonable attorney's fees and costs of the action, to be paid by the defendant, and
(E) such other legal or equitable relief as the court deems appropriate.

29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2). Generally speaking, the first two categories of relief are similar to damages awarded in a breach of contract case, which seek to put the injured parts in "as good a position as he would have been in had the contract been performed." by awarding the Plaintiff unpaid contributions and any interest that would have accrued on them. Restatement (Second) of Contracts $ 344 cmt. a (Am. Law Inst. 1981). The third category seeks to deter the Defendant from making delinquent contributions in the future by ordering an additional award of either the interest on the unpaid contributions or liquidated damages not in excess of 20 percent, whichever amount is greater. See Vernon v. Bowen Enterprises. Inc.,648 F.Supp. 721. 724-25 (W.D. Pa. 1986)(noting both the deterrent purpose of the provision and that the elements are "phrased in the disjunctive."). In its prior opinion, the Court conflated the categories of relief, ...


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