United States District Court, D. Maryland
Theodore D. Chuang, Judge
case alleging payments owed under a collective bargaining
agreement is before the Court on a Motion for Default
Judgment. Having reviewed the Complaint, the Motion, and the
supporting documents, the Court finds no hearing necessary.
See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the following
reasons, the Motion for Default Judgment is granted in part
and denied in part.
are the Teamsters Local 639 Employers Health Trust
("Health Fund"), the Teamsters Local 639 Employers
Pension Trust ("Pension Fund"), and their
respective trustees. The Health Fund is an employee welfare
benefit plan and multiemployer plan, as those terms are
defined in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1461 (2012).
See Id. § 1002(1), (3), (37)(A). The Pension
Fund is an employee pension benefit plan and multiemployer
plan, as those terms are defined in ERISA. See Id.
§ 1002(2), (3), (37)(A). Defendant Boiler & Furnace
Cleaners, Inc. ("Boiler & Furnace Cleaners"), a
company engaged in an industry affecting commerce, is an
employer for purposes of ERISA. See Id. §
& Furnace Cleaners is required to make regular
contributions to the Health Fund and Pension Fund pursuant to
its current collective bargaining agreement ("CBA")
with the Drivers, Chauffeurs and Helpers Local Union No. 639
("Union") and was also required to make regular
contributions under prior CBAs with the Union. The current
CBA covers the period from October 16, 2014 through October
15, 2017; the previous CBA covered the period from October
16, 2013 through October 15, 2014; and another prior CBA
covered the period from October 16, 2010 through October 15,
2013. By the terms of these agreements, Boiler & Furnace
Cleaners must make contributions to the Health Fund and
Pension Fund at rates specified in the CBAs for each hour or
portion thereof for which an employee actually performed
CBAs also provide that Boiler & Furnace Cleaners agrees
to be bound by the Agreement and Declaration of Trust for
each of the Health Fund and the Pension Fund ("Trust
Agreements"). The Trust Agreements provide that an
employer who fails to pay timely the amounts required by the
CBAs must pay 10 percent of the amount due in liquidated
damages and 1.5 percent of the amount due in interest. The
Trust Agreements further specify that if the trustees must
initiate a legal action to compel payment of delinquent
contributions, the employer also becomes liable for
attorney's fees and costs, as well as additional
liquidated damages of 10 percent of the amount due.
October 7, 2015, Plaintiffs filed this action, alleging that
Boiler & Furnace Cleaners has been delinquent in making
its required payments to the Health Fund and the Pension
Fund. Specifically, the Complaint asserted that Boiler &
Furnace Cleaners failed to pay an unspecified amount in
contributions, liquidated damages, and interest for the month
of August 2015 and that the employer owes liquidated damages
and interest for prior late payments for certain months from
July 2013 through July 2015. Plaintiffs also claim that
Boiler & Furnace Cleaners owes liquidated damages of $4,
341.19 and interest of $334.71 to the Health Fund, as well as
liquidated damages of $7, 198.80 and interest of $257.18 to
the Pension Fund, for late payments for certain months from
July 2013 through July 2015. In addition, they seek
attorney's fees and costs.
& Furnace Cleaners was served with the Complaint on
October 9, 2015 but has failed to file a timely responsive
pleading. The Clerk entered default against Boiler &
Furnace Cleaners on April 6, 2016. To date, Boiler &
Furnace Cleaners has not responded to that default or to the
Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment.
Motion for Default Judgment seeks an order entering judgment
against Boiler & Furnace Cleaners for liquidated damages
and interest for "late payments for certain months from
June 2013 through February 2016, " Mot. Default J. Aff.
Nichelle Grey ¶¶ 10-11, ECF No. 10-2, as well as
attorney's fees and costs. In addition, Plaintiffs
request that the Court "enter a permanent injunction
requiring Defendant to remit its contributions to the Health
Fund and Pension Fund in a timely manner." Mem. Supp.
Mot. Default J. at 8, ECF No. 10-1. Plaintiffs state in their
Motion that since the filing of the Complaint, Boiler &
Furnace Cleaners has paid its contributions for the month of
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a), "[w]hen a
party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is
sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that
failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must
enter the party's default." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a).
Under Rule 55(b)(2), after a default has been entered by the
clerk, the court may, upon the plaintiffs application and
notice to the defaulting party, enter a default judgment. Fed
R. Civ. P.
A defendant's default does not, however, automatically
entitle the plaintiff to entry of a default judgment; rather,
that decision is left to the discretion of the court.
United States v. Moradi, 673 F.2d 725, 727 (4th Cir.
1982) ("[T]rial judges are vested with discretion, which
must be liberally exercised, in entering [default] judgments
and in providing relief therefrom."); Dow v.
Jones, 232 F.Supp.2d 491, 494 (D. Md. 2002). The United
States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has a
"strong policy that cases be decided on their merits,
" United States v. Shaffer Equip. Co., 11 F.3d
450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993), but default judgment may be
appropriate "when the adversary process has been halted
because of an essentially unresponsive party, "
S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md.
2005); see H. F. Livermore Corp. v. Aktiengesellschaft
Gebruder Loepfe, 432 F.2d 689, 691 (D.C. Cir. 1970)
("[T]he default judgment must normally be viewed as
available only when the adversary process has been halted
because of an essentially unresponsive party. In that
instance, the diligent party must be protected lest he be
faced with interminable delay and continued uncertainty as to
reviewing a Motion for Default Judgment, the court accepts as
true the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint
relating to liability. Ryan v. Homecomings Fin.
Network,253 F.3d 778, 780-81 (4th Cir. 2001). However,
it remains for the court to determine whether these
unchallenged factual allegations constitute a legitimate
cause of action. Id; see also 10A Charles Alan
Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice &
Procedure § 2688 (3d ed. 2010) ("[L]iability is not
deemed established simply because of the default ... and the
court, in its discretion, may require some proof of the facts
that must be established in ...