United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
TRUSTEES OF THE NATIONAL AUTOMATIC SPRINKLER INDUSTRY WELFARE FUND, et a/., Plaintiffs,
FIRST RESPONDER FIRE PROTECTION CORP., Defendant.
J. HAZEL United States District Judge
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). Trustees of the National Automatic
Sprinkler Industry Welfare Fund, Trustees of the National
Automatic Sprinkler Local 669 UA Education Fund, Trustees of
the National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Pension Fund.
Trustees of the Sprinkler Industry Supplemental Pension Fund,
and Trustees of the International Training Fund
(collectively. "Plaintiffs" or "NASI
Funds"), have filed a Motion for Default Judgment, with
supporting declarations and exhibits. ECF No. 6. Defendant
First Responder Fire Protection Corp. has not filed a
response. No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion.
See Focal Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons
that follow. Plaintiffs* Motion is granted.
NASI Funds are multiemployer "employee benefit
plans" as that term is defined in the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"). 29 U.S.C.
§ 1002(3). ECF No. 1 ¶ 2. The NASI Funds are
established and maintained according to provisions of the
Restated Agreements and Declarations of Trust
("Declarations of Trust") and collective bargaining
agreements between the Sprinkler Fitters Local Union Nos.
483. 669. 709 (the "Unions") and Defendant.
Id.; see also ECF Nos. 6-4 through 6-18 (collective
bargaining agreements): ECF Nos. 6-19 through 6-23 (trust
agreements for NASI funds). Defendant First Responder Fire
Protection Corp. is a California corporation with offices
located in California. ECF No. 1 ¶ 3. Defendant
transacts business as a contractor or subcontractor in the
sprinkler industry, and is an employer in an industry
affecting commerce as defined by ERISA. 29 U.S.C.
§§ 1002(5). (9). (11). (12) and (14) and by the
Labor-Management Relations Act (LMRA). 28 U.S.C. §§
142(1). (3) and 152(2). Id.
allege that Defendant entered into agreements with the
Unions, which, in turn, bound them to the collective
bargaining agreements executed between the Unions and the
National Fire Sprinkler Association. ECF No. 1 ¶ 4;
see also ECF Nos. 6-4 through 6-9 (agreements
between Defendant and Local Union 669); ECF Nos. 6-10 through
6-14 (agreements between Defendant and Local Union 483); ECF
Nos. 6-15 through 6-18 (agreements between Defendant and
Local Union 709). Pursuant to these documents. Defendants
were obligated to pay certain contributions to the NASI Funds
for each hour worked by a covered employee. ECF No. 1 ¶
5: see also ECF No. 6-3 ¶ 9. Plaintiffs further
allege that from 2012 through the present. Defendant employed
individuals that are covered under the collective bargaining
agreements. ECF No. 1 ¶ 6.
addition to requiring contributions to the NASI Funds, the
collective bargaining agreements also bound Defendants to the
respective Declarations of Trust, as well as Guidelines for
Participation in the NASI Funds (collectively. "Trust
Agreements'"). Id. ¶ 7: see
also ECF No. 6-3 ¶ 10. Under the terms of the
Collective Bargaining Agreements. Trust Agreements and the
Guidelines, the Trustees for the NASI Funds have the
authority to conduct an audit of Defendant's payroll
records to determine the accuracy of their contributions to
the funds. ECF No. 1 ¶ 8; see also ECF Nos.
6-19 through 6-23 (trust agreements of the NASI funds,
authorizing the Trustees to conduct audits).
to the Complaint. Defendant has failed to cooperate with the
Funds' auditor's attempts to conduct an audit of
Defendant's books and wage records for January 1. 2012
through the period of the audit. Id. ¶¶
9-10. Specifically. John Eger. Assistant Fund Administrator
of the NASI Funds, attested in a declaration that Defendant
has not complied with their obligation, pursuant to the above
referenced collective bargaining agreements, trust agreement
and guidelines, to "submit to the NASI Funds the records
that were requested by the NASI Fund's auditor." ECF
No. 6-3 ¶¶ 13, 15. Plaintiffs request that the
Court enforce the terms of the above referenced agreements by
ordering Defendant to permit an audit of its wages and
payroll records. ECF No. 1 ¶ 13. They also request that
the Court enter Judgment against Defendant for the amount
determined to be owed by the audit, plus liquidated damages,
interest from the date of delinquency to the date of payment,
costs and reasonable attorney's fees, pursuant to 29
U.S.C. § 1132(g). and the above-referenced agreements.
Id. Finally. Plaintiffs request Judgment against
Defendant for all expenses, including accountant's fees,
related to the audit and attempted audit. again pursuant 29
U.S.C. § 1132(g), and the above-referenced agreements.
initiated the present action on August 17. 2016. ECF No. 1.
and served Defendant via private process server on September
1, 2016. ECF No. 4. The time for Defendant to respond to
Plaintiffs" Complaint expired on September 22. 2016.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a)(l)(A)(i). On October 11.
2016. Plaintiffs moved for Clerk's Entry of Default and
for Default Judgment. ECF Nos. 5 & 6. An Order of Default
was entered against Defendant on November 4. 2016. ECF No. 7.
To date, no response from Defendant has been received by this
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. Savannah 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 "ft]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[.]" hi. (citing S.E.C.
v. Lawhaugh. 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." Id. at 422. 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 v. Teseo. 180 F.Supp.2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001)
(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)
C'[O]n default judgment, the Court may only award damages
without a hearing if the record supports the damages
the NASI Funds claim that Defendant breached their collective
bargaining agreements by failing to comply with the
auditor's requests. "ERISA and LMRA authorize
parties to enforce the provisions of their collective
bargaining agreements." Trustees of the Nat.
Asbestos Workers Pension Fund v. Ideal Insulation Inc..
No. CIV. ELH-11-832, 2011 WL 5151067. at *3 (D. Md. Oct. 27.
2011) (internal quotation omitted); see also 29
U.S.C. § 185(a) and 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B). The
Complaint, and the materials submitted in support of
Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment, which included
the aforementioned Declaration of John Eger, Assistant Fund
Administrator of the NASI Funds, and the relevant collective
bargaining and trust agreements, taken as true, establish
that Defendant was required to make contributions to the NASI
funds and was bound to the trust agreements establishing each
fund, which authorized the Trustees to conduct an audit to
determine the accuracy of their contributions. ECF No. 1
¶¶ 5-8; see also ECF No. 6-3 ¶¶
9-11. In his declaration, Mr. Eger states that Defendant was
required to provide the NASI Fund's auditor with the
requested records, but have not done so. ECF No. 6-3
¶¶ 12-15. This failure by Defendant is thus a
breach of the collective bargaining agreements they agreed to