United States District Court, D. Maryland
PAULA XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
February 13, 2017, Plaintiff National Electrical Benefit Fund
(“NEBF”) filed its complaint in the
above-captioned case. ECF No. 1. Summonses were served on the
Defendant, Lewis Electric, LLC (“Lewis”). ECF No.
4. On April 4, 2017, the Plaintiff moved for entry of default
against the Defendant pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 5. The Clerk entered
default on April 13, 2017. ECF No. 7. NEBF has moved for
default judgment. ECF No. 6. Lewis has not filed a response,
and the time for doing so has passed. See Loc. R.
105.2.a. Pursuant to Local Rule 105.6, a hearing is not
necessary. For the reasons stated herein, NEBF's Motion
for Default Judgment is GRANTED.
action is brought by the trustees of NEBF, a multiemployer
pension plan, against Lewis, an employer that is obligated to
contribute to the NEBF pursuant to its collective bargaining
agreements with the IBEW Local Union 1186 and the NEBF plan
documents. ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 1, 4, 5, 6, 7. NEBF
alleges that, notwithstanding its obligations pursuant to the
collective bargaining agreements and the NEBF plan Trust
Agreement, Lewis has been delinquent in making contributions
to the NEBF. Id. ¶ 8. NEBF seeks a judgment in
the amount of $14, 016.11 reflecting delinquent contributions
between December 2015 and June 2016, interest, liquidated
damages, and attorney's fees, as well as an order
directing Lewis to provide monthly payroll reports or access
to Lewis's books and records from July 2016 forward. ECF
No. 6 at 2.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) provides that default judgment
may be entered “[i]f the plaintiff's claim is for a
sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by
computation” and the defendant is in default for
failing to appear. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1). The entry of
default judgment is a matter within the discretion of the
Court. SEC v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D.
Md. 2005) (citing Dow v. Jones, 232 F.Supp.2d 491,
494 (D. Md. 2002)).
“the Fourth Circuit has a ‘strong policy that
cases be decided on the merits, '” Disney
Enters. v. Delane, 446 F.Supp.2d 402, 405 (D. Md. 2006)
(quoting United States v. Shaffer Equip. Co., 11
F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993)), “default judgment is
available when the ‘adversary process has been halted
because of an essentially unresponsive party, ' ”
id. (quoting Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp. at 421).
It is within the Court's discretion to grant default
judgment when a defendant is unresponsive. See Park Corp.
v. Lexington Ins. Co., 812 F.2d 894, 896 (4th Cir. 1987)
(upholding a default judgment awarded where the defendant
lost its summons and did not respond within the proper
period); Disney Enters., 446 F.Supp.2d at 405-06
(finding appropriate the entry of default judgment where the
defendant had been properly served with the complaint and did
not respond, despite repeated attempts to contact him).
determine whether a default judgment is appropriate, the
Court engages in a two-step inquiry: First, the Court must
decide “whether the unchallenged facts in
plaintiff['s] complaint constitute a legitimate cause of
action.” Agora Fin., LLC v. Samler, 725
F.Supp.2d 491, 494 (D. Md. 2010). Second, if the Court finds
liability is established, it must “make an independent
determination regarding the appropriate amount of
damages.” Id. The Court may hold a hearing to
determine damages, or it may rely on detailed affidavits or
other documentary evidence. Lipenga v. Kambalame,
219 F.Supp.3d 517, 525 (D. Md. 2016).
was served with copies of the Complaint in February of 2017
and failed to respond. See ECF No. 4. Accordingly,
all of NEBF's allegations-other than those pertaining to
damages-are deemed admitted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6). Lewis also
did not respond to NEBF's motion for entry of default
judgment, nor did it move to set aside the Order of Default
entered by the Clerk of the Court. This Court will exercise
its discretion to grant default judgment in light of the
Defendant's failure to respond. See Educ. Credit
Mgmt. Corp. v. Optimum Welding, 285 F.R.D. 371, 373 (D.
has pleaded adequately that Lewis has violated 29 U.S.C.
§ 1145 by failing to make contributions required
pursuant to collective bargaining agreements and the NEBF
Trust Agreement. The Trust Agreement makes plain that a
covered employer is obligated to make periodic contributions
to the NEBF. ECF No. 6-2 at 6. NEBF has alleged that Lewis
has failed to make its contributions, and in support of its
claims, NEBF has submitted the affidavit of Angel Losquadro,
Director of NEBF's Audit and Delinquency Department, with
a copy of the relevant portions of the Trust Agreement and a
report of delinquent payments ascertained from Lewis'
self-reported accounting to NEBF. See ECF No. 6-2 at
1-3, 5-12; 14. The affidavit, along with its exhibits and
additional exhibits provided to the Court with respect to
damages, clearly establish Lewis' liability. Accordingly,
default judgment will be entered in NEBF's favor.
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c) provides that “[a]
judgment by default shall not be different in kind from or
exceed in amount that prayed for in the demand for
judgment.” The Court must make an independent