United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
National Electrical Benefit Fund ("Plaintiff or
"NEBF") brings this action against Defendant
Chester County Electric, Inc. ("Defendant") under
the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
("ERISA"), as amended by the Multiemployer Pension
Plan Amendments Act of 1980, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001
et seq. Following Defendant's failure to answer
or otherwise defend in this action, the Clerk entered default
against Defendant on February 13, 2017. ECF No. 20. Now
pending before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion for Default
Judgment against Defendant pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b).
ECF No. 6. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R.
105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons, Plaintiffs
Motion for Default Judgment is granted, and judgment is
entered against Defendant in the amount of $20, 732.49.
following facts are established by the Complaint, ECF No. 1,
and evidentiary exhibits in support of the Motion for Default
Judgment, ECF Nos. 6-1-6-4. The NEBF is a multiemployer
employee pension benefit plan within the meaning of Section
3(2) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(2), which has been
established pursuant to an agreement entered into between the
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
("IBEW") and the National Electrical Contractors
Association ("NECA"). ECF No. 1 ¶ 4;
see ECF No. 6-3 at 1. Employers agree to participate in
the NEBF pursuant to collective bargaining agreements with
the IBEW or one of its affiliated local unions. ECF No. 1
¶ 4. The NEBF is administered at 2400 Research
Boulevard, Suite 500, Rockville, Maryland 20850-3238.
states upon information and belief that Defendant Chester
County Electric, Inc. is a Pennsylvania corporation whose
business address and main place of business is 301 National
Road, Suite 300, Exton, PA 19341. ECF No. 1 ¶ 5.
Defendant is an employer within the meaning of Section 3(5)
of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(5), and is engaged in an
industry affecting commerce. Id.
times relevant to the action, Defendant was a signatory to
collective bargaining agreements ("Collective Bargaining
Agreements") with IBEW Local Union 380, now part of IBEW
Local 98, the collective bargaining representatives for
Defendant's employees. Id. ¶ 6. According
to the Complaint, the Collective Bargaining Agreements
obligated Defendant to submit contributions to the NEBF on
behalf of employees covered by the Agreements. Id.
Defendant was also bound to the terms and conditions of the
Restated Employees Benefit Agreement and Trust ("Trust
Agreement"), which governed administration of the NEBF.
Id. ¶ 7. The Trust Agreement obligated
Defendant, among other things, to file monthly payroll
reports identifying employees and work covered under the
Agreements, and contribute three percent of the gross wages
paid to all such covered employees following the month in
which the covered work was performed. Id. ¶ 8.
The Trust Agreement also authorized the Trustees to take all
necessary actions to recover delinquent contributions. ECF
No. 1 ¶ 19; see ECF No. 6-3 at 7.
allegedly failed to timely report or contribute to NEBF for
work performed by Defendant's covered employees between
December 2012 and July 2015. See ECF No. 1
¶¶ 9-10; ECF No. 6-4 at 1. Plaintiff discovered
these omissions when Defendant filed reports for the
aforementioned months in August 2015. Id. At that
time, $13, 835.00 was owed. Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff
has made several demands for payment from Defendant.
Id. ¶ 12. Since then, Defendant has paid $1,
128.52 towards the unpaid contributions, leaving an
outstanding balance of $12, 706.76.
filed the instant Complaint against Defendant on November 30,
2016. ECF No. 1. Defendant's President, John Gleason,
returned an executed Waiver of Service to Plaintiff on
January 15, 2017. See ECF No. 4. An Answer from
Defendant was due on or before January 30, 2017. Id.
On February 23, 2017, with no answer having been filed,
Plaintiff moved for default, and the Clerk entered default
against Defendant on March 6, 2017. See ECF Nos. 5
and 7. Plaintiff now seeks default judgment against Defendant
in the amount of 512, 706.76 in delinquent contributions; $4,
479.67 in interest accrued; $2, 767.06 in liquidated damages;
and $779.00 in attorneys' fees and costs - for a total of
$20, 732.49, pursuant to Section 502(g)(2) of ERISA, 29
U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2). ECF No. 6.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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).
"A 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."
Educ. Credit Mgml. Corp. v. Optimum Welding, 285
F.R.D. 371, 373 (D. Md. 2012). Although "[t]he Fourth
Circuit has a 'strong policy' that 'cases be
decided on their merits, '" Choice Hotels
Intern., Inc. v. Savannah Shakli Carp., No. DKC-11-0438,
2011 WL 5118328 at *2 (D. Md. Oct. 25, 2011) (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." Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d at
422; see also Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253
F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001) (noting that "[t]he
defendant, by [its] default, admits the plaintiffs
well-pleaded allegations of fact, " which provide the
basis for judgment). Upon a finding of liability, "[t]he
court must make an independent determination regarding
damages ..." Int'l Painters &
Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. Capital Restoration
& Painting Co., 919 F.Supp.2d 680, 684 (D. Md.
2013). Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(c) 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." 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.
Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action
pursuant to Section 502 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132 and
1451(c). Venue is proper under 29 U.S.C. §§
1132(e)(2), 1451(d), as the NEBF is administered in
Rockville, Maryland. See Bd. of Trs., Sheet Metal
Workers' Nat'l Pension Fund v. McD Metals, Inc.,
964 F.Supp. 1040 (E.D. Va. 1997); Trustees of Nat.
Automatic Sprinkler Indus. Pension Fund v. Best Automatic
Fire Prot., Inc., 578 F.Supp. 94, 95 (D. Md. 1983).
ERISA, "[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.. . make such contributions in accordance with the
terms and conditions of such plan or such agreement." 29
U.S.C. § 1145; see Bd. of Trustees, Sheet Metal
Workers' Nat'lPension Fund v. Camelot
Constr., Inc., No. 1:14-CV-161-LMB-TRJ, 2015 WL
13050031, at *3 (E.D. Va. Apr. 14, 2015). In the Complaint,
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant was obligated under the
terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreements and Trust
Agreement to make contributions to NEBF, but failed to do so
between December 2012 and July 2015, leaving an outstanding
contribution balance of $12, 706.76. See ECF No. 1
at 3. The Affidavit of ...