United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Xinis United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff National Electrical Benefit
Fund's motion for default judgment, ECF No. 7. Defendant
Eley Electrical Contractors, LLC, has not filed a response or
entered its appearance, and the time for doing so has passed.
See Loc. R. 105.2.a. For the foregoing reasons,
National Electrical Benefit Fund's motion for default
judgment is GRANTED.
National Electrical Benefit Fund (“NEBF”) is a
multi-employer “employee pension benefit plan” as
that term is defined under the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1132
et seq. See ECF No. 1 at ¶ 4; see also
29 U.S.C. § 1002(2). Defendant Eley Electrical
Contractors, LLC (“Eley Electrical”) is an
employer as defined by ERISA. 29 U.S.C. § 1002(5); ECF
No. 1 at ¶ 5. Pursuant to a collective bargaining
agreement with International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers Local 98 (“IBEW Local 98”), Eley
Electrical is bound to all terms and conditions of the
Restated Employees Benefit Agreement and Trust for the
National Electrical Benefit Fund (“Trust
Agreement”), which governs NEBF administration. ECF No.
1 at ¶¶ 6- 7.
to the Trust Agreement, Eley Electrical must regularly
contribute to the NEBF on behalf of all covered employees.
ECF No. 1 at ¶ 6. If Eley Electrical fails to make
required contributions, the Trust Agreement authorizes NEBF
to take all necessary action to recover the delinquent
contributions. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 18; see also ECF
No. 7-2 at 5-12.
November 27, 2017, NEBF filed suit, alleging that Eley
Electrical breached the terms of the Trust Agreement and owes
unpaid delinquent contributions for work performed by its
covered employees from January 1, 2014, through December 31,
2016. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 9. Eley Electrical did not answer
the Complaint, and on February 15, 2018, the Clerk of the
Court entered default pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(a). ECF No. 6. On February 27, 2018, NEBF filed
the pending motion for default judgment. ECF No. 7.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) governs default judgments,
which 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). For “all
other cases, ” in which the sum is neither certain nor
ascertainable through computation, Rule 55(b)(2) provides
that “the party must apply to the court for a default
judgment.” The Court may then “conduct hearings
or make referrals - preserving any federal statutory right to
a jury trial - when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it
needs to: (A) conduct an accounting; (B) determine the amount
of damages; (C) establish the truth of any allegation by
evidence; or (D) investigate any other matter.” Whether
to enter a default judgment rests within the Court's
sound discretion. 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.2d at
421); see also 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).
considering whether to grant default judgment, the Court
takes as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the
complaint, other than those pertaining to damages.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6); Ryan v. Homecomings Fin.
Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001) (“The
defendant, by his default, admits the plaintiff's
well-pleaded allegations of fact, is concluded on those facts
by the judgment, and is barred from contesting on appeal the
facts thus established.” (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted)); see Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(b)(6) (“An allegation - other than one relating to
the amount of damages - is admitted if a responsive pleading
is required and the allegation is not denied.”).
requires that “[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, to the extent not inconsistent with law,
make such contributions in accordance with the terms and
conditions of such plan or such agreement.” 29 U.S.C.
§ 1145: see also 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)
(providing that employers who fail to timely make
contributions are liable in a civil action for inter alia,
unpaid contributions, interest on the unpaid contributions,
liquidated damages, reasonable attorneys' fees, and costs
of the action). ERISA therefore “ ‘provide[s]
trustees of multiemployer benefit plans with an effective
federal remedy to collect delinquent contributions.'
” Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus.
Pension Fund v. Capital Restoration & Painting Co.,
919 F.Supp.2d 680. 685-86 (D. Md. 2013) (quoting Laborers
Health & Welfare Trust Fund for Northern Cal. v. Advanced
Lightweight Concrete Co., 484 U.S. 539, 541 (1988)).
the well-pleaded facts of the Complaint as true, NEBF has
established that Eley Electrical was required as an employer
to make contributions under the CBA and Trust Agreement. NEBF
has also established that Eley Electrical failed to make such
contributions, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 1145.
See ECF No. 1. Default judgment as to liability is
determined liability, NEBF is authorized by statute, 29
U.S.C. § 1132(g), to collect as damages the amount of
the delinquent contributions, plus ten percent interest;
liquidated damages in the amount of twenty percent of the
delinquent contributions; costs of the audit; and
attorneys' fees and costs. See 29 U.S.C. §
1132(g). However, on a motion for default judgment, damages
may be awarded only if ...