United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL United States District Judge.
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). Plaintiff National Electrical Benefit
Fund ("NEBF") has filed a Motion for Default
Judgment, with supporting declarations and exhibits, against
Defendant Allran/llemmer Electric, LLC to enforce their
rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
(''ERISA"). 29 U.S.C. § 1132 et
seq. ECF No. 6. No hearing is necessary to resolve the
Motion. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the
reasons that follow. Plaintiffs Motion is granted.
NEBF is a multi-employer "employee pension benefit
plan" as that term is defined under ERISA. 29 U.S.C.
§ 1002(2). ECF No. 1 at ¶ 4. Defendant is an
employer as defined by ERISA. 29 U.S.C. § 1002(5). and
agreed to participate in the NEBF pursuant to a collective
bargaining agreement with IBEW Local Union 26. the collective
bargaining representative of Defendant's employees.
Id. ¶ 5. 7. The collective bargaining agreement
in turn binds Defendant to the terms and conditions of the
Restated Employees Benefit Agreement and Trust for the
National HIectrical Benefit Fund ("Trust
Agreement"), which governs the administration of the
NEBF. Id. ¶ 8.
to said agreement. Defendant is required to submit
contributions to the NEBF on behalf of covered employees.
Id. ¶ 7. If the Defendant fails to make the
required contributions, the Trust Agreement authorizes the
Trustees to take all necessary actions to recover the
delinquent contributions. Id. ¶ 9. It also
authorizes the Trustees to recover interest on the delinquent
contributions at 10% per year; liquidated damages in an
amount equal to 20% of the delinquency; and any associated
collection costs such as audit and attorney fees.
Id. ¶ 9; see ECF No. 6-3 at 7.
brings this action pursuant to § 1132(a)(3) of ERISA,
which allows a fiduciary to enforce Defendant's
obligations to contribute to plans such as the NEBF through a
civil action. ECF No. I ¶ 17. Plaintiff alleges that
audits of Defendant's books and records in 2014 and 2015
revealed that Defendant had underpaid NEBF by at least Si
1.595.49 for work performed by covered employees.
Id. ¶ 10. Defendants paid a portion of their
delinquent contributions, leaving an outstanding principal of
$3, 954.99. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff also alleges
that Defendants owe interest on the delinquent contributions
in the amount of $1.995.18: liquidated damages of $2, 319.10;
audit costs of $480.00 and attorney's fees and costs of
$1, 535.40. Id. at ¶ 11-14; see also
ECF No. 9 ¶ 9. Since the filing of the Complaint, the
interest on the delinquent contributions has increased to $2,
094.72. ECF Nos. 6 ¶ 9 & 6-2 ¶ 8.
initiated the present action on April 20. 2016, ECF No. 1. On
June 8. 2016. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Clerk's Entry
of Default, ECF No. 5. and an Order of Default was entered by
the Clerk of the Court against Defendant on July 21. 2016.
ECF No. 7. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment on
June 8. 2016, ECF No. 6, and upon request, provided the Court
with supplemental affidavits on December 19. 2016 and January
3. 2017. ECF Nos. 9 & 11. To date. Defendant has failed
to submit any pleadings to this Court regarding the claims at
in this Court is proper as federal courts have jurisdiction
over ERISA claims and the NEBF is administered within this
district. See 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(2).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
defendant's default does not automatically entitle the
plaintiff to entry of a default judgment: rather, that
decision is left to the discretion of the court Choice
Hotels Intern, . Inc. v. Savunnuh Shakti Carp., No.
DKC-11-0438. 2011 WL 5118328 at * 2 (D. Md. Oct. 25. 2011)
(citing Dow v. Jones. 232 F.Supp.2d 491, 494 (D. Md.
2002)). Although "[t]he Fourth Circuit has a 'strong
policy' that 'cases be decided on their
merits."" id. (citing United States v.
Shaffer Equip. Co.. 11 F.3d 450. 453 (4th Cir.1993)).
"default judgment may be appropriate when the adversary
process has been halted because of an essentially
unresponsive party[.]" Id. (citing S.E.C.
v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418. 421 (D. Md. 2005)).
default, the well-pled allegations in a complaint as to
liability are taken as true, although the allegations as to
damages are not." S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh, 359
F.Supp.2d 418. 422 (D. Md. 2005). Rule 54(c) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure limits the type of judgment that may
be entered based on a party's default: "A default
judgment must not differ in kind from. or exceed in amount,
what is demanded in the pleadings." In entering default
judgment, a court cannot, therefore, award additional damages
"because the defendant could not reasonably have
expected that his damages would exceed th[e] amount [plead in
the complaint]." In re Genesys Data Techs.,
Inc., 204 F.3d 124, 132 (4th Cir. 2000). Where a
complaint does not specify an amount, "the court is
required to make an independent determination of the sum to
be awarded." Adkins v. Teseo. 180 F.Supp.2d 15.
17 (D.D.C. 2001) (citing S.E.C. v. Management Dynamics.
Inc., 515 F.2d 801. 814 (2nd Cir. 1975); An Bon Pain
Corp, v. Arteet, Inc., 653 F.2d 61, 65 (2nd Cir. 1981)).
While the Court may hold a hearing to prove damages, it is
not required to do so: it may rely instead on "detailed
affidavits or documentary evidence to determine the
appropriate sum." Adkins. 180 F.Supp.2d at 17
(citing United Artists Corp. v. Freeman. 605 F.2d
854. 857 (5th Cir. 1979)): see also Laborers'
District Council Pension, et al, v. E.G.S.. Inc.,
No. WDQ-09-3174. 2010 WL 1568595. at *3 (D. Md. Apr. 16.
2010) (Mn default judgment, the Court may only
award damages without a hearing if the record supports the
considering a Motion for Default Judgment, the Court accepts
as true the well-pleaded factual allegations in the Complaint
as to liability, but nevertheless "must determine
whether [those] allegations . .. support the relief sought in
th[e] action." Int 7 Painters & Allied
Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Capital Restoration &
Painting Co..919 F.Supp.2d 680. 685 (D. Md. 2013)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). In the
Complaint. NEBF alleges that Defendant, in contravention of
the Trust Agreement, underpaid NEBF by at least $11.595.49
for work performed by covered employees between January 2013
and December 2014. ECF No. 1 ¶ 10; ECF No. 6-2
¶¶ 4-5. The Affidavit of Angel Losquadro. Director
of the Audit ...