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Acosta v. AmeriGuard Sec. Servs., Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 30, 2018

R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, Plaintiff
v.
AMERIGUARD SEC. SERVS., INC., et al, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          JAMES K. BREDAR, CHIEF JUDGE

         I. Background

         The Secretary of Labor[1] filed suit on November 16, 2015, against Ricardo Silva, the Maryland Association of Correctional & Security Employees, Inc. ("MACSE"), Charles Ezrine, State Employee Benefits, Inc. ("SEBI"), AmeriGuard Security Services, Inc. ("AmeriGuard"), the Maryland Association of Correctional & Security Employees Health & Welfare Plan ("Health Plan"), and the Maryland Association of Correctional & Security Employees Retirement Plan ("Retirement Plan") (the Health Plan and the Retirement Plan, collectively, the "Plans"). (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff alleged the above-named Defendants violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., by breaching their fiduciary duty under ERISA Section 409, 29 U.S.C. § 1109. (Id. ¶ 1.) Briefly, Plaintiff alleged Defendants failed to administer the Plans properly and ensure that contributions to the Plans were held in trust and used solely for the benefit of the employees who participated in the Plans. Those participants were employed by AmeriGuard to provide security for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Baltimore, Maryland. Thus, the central tenet of Plaintiffs lawsuit is that Defendants failed to carry out their fiduciary duties to the Plans.

         On June 2, 2017, the Court entered a consent judgment against Ezrine and SEBI. (ECF No. 103.) A default judgment against MACSE was entered September 13, 2017. (ECF No. 113.) Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment against Silva and AmeriGuard was granted as to Silva only, and judgment was entered against Silva on March 20, 2018. (ECF Nos. 117, 120.) The Plans have not responded to the lawsuit, but Plaintiff has not sought judgment against them. Given that circumstance, the Court presumes Plaintiff does not intend for them to continue as parties in the case, and, consequently, the Court will dismiss them for failure to prosecute. AmeriGuard remains the only viable Defendant in this proceeding. In its amended answer to Plaintiffs complaint, AmeriGuard included a crossclaim against Ezrine, MACSE, Silva, and SEBI (ECF No. 82), to which Ezrine and SEBI filed answers (ECF Nos. 99, 100).

         Now pending before the Court are the following motions:

• Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment against AmeriGuard (ECF No. 96)
• AmeriGuard's cross-motion for summary judgment on AmeriGuard's cross-claim against Ezrine, SEBI, MACSE, and Silva (ECF No. 98)
• Ezrine and SEBI's cross-motion for summary judgment against AmeriGuard on AmeriGuard's cross-claim (ECF No. 105)
• AmeriGuard's cross-motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiffs complaint (ECF No. 106)

         The motions have had responses and replies (ECF Nos. 108, 109, 110, 111), and no hearing is required, Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Plaintiffs motion will be denied, AmeriGuard's motion on Plaintiffs complaint will be granted, and AmeriGuard's motion on the cross-claim and Ezrine and SEBI's motion on the cross-claim will be found moot.

         II. Standard for Summary Judgment

         "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing predecessor to current Rule 56(a)). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate the absence of any genuine dispute of material fact. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). If sufficient evidence exists for a reasonable jury to render a verdict in favor of the party opposing the motion, then a genuine dispute of material fact is presented and summary judgment should be denied. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). However, the "mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [opposing party's] position" is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 252. The facts themselves, and the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts, must be viewed in the light most favorable to the opposing party, Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007); Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 230 (4th Cir. 2008), who may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading but instead must, by affidavit or other evidentiary showing, set out specific facts showing a genuine dispute for trial, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Supporting and opposing affidavits are to be made on personal knowledge, contain such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and show affirmatively the competence of the affiant to testify to the matters stated in the affidavit. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Each cross-motion for summary judgment is viewed separately on its own merits. Rossignol v. Voorhaar, 316 F.3d 516, 523 (4th Cir. 2003). "When considering each individual motion, the court must take care to 'resolve all factual disputes and any competing, rational inferences in the light most favorable' to the party opposing that motion." Id. (citation omitted).

         III. Analysis

         The core issue in Plaintiffs and AmeriGuard's dueling motions is whether AmeriGuard is a fiduciary under ERISA for the Plans. If it is a fiduciary, then AmeriGuard can be held liable for violating the ERISA standard of fiduciary care, as set forth in ERISA Section ...


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