United States District Court, D. Maryland
TRUSTEES OF THE NATIONAL AUTOMATIC SPRINKLER INDUSTRY WELFARE FUND, et al. Plaintiffs,
A & M FIRE PROTECTION, LLC Defendant
Xinis United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiffs 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, Trustees of the International Training Fund, and
Trustees of the Road Sprinkler Fitter and Apprentices Work
Assessments and Extended Benefit Fund's (“NASI
Funds” or “Plaintiffs”) Motion for Default
Judgment. ECF No. 7. Defendant A&M Fire Protection, LLC,
(“A&M” or “Defendant”) has not
filed a response or entered its appearance, and the time for
doing so has passed. See D. Md. Loc. R. 105.2.a. For
the following reasons, NASI Funds' request for this Court
to enter default judgment in the amount of $112, 873.65 is
following facts are taken from the Complaint and accepted as
true. ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs are multi-employer benefit plans
as that term is defined in § 3(3) of the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”),
29 U.S.C. § 1002(3). Plaintiffs' Funds are
established and maintained according to the provisions of the
Restated Agreements and Declarations of Trust (“Trust
Agreements”) establishing the NASI Funds and the
Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between
Road Sprinkler Fitters Local Union No. 669 (“the
Union”) and Defendant. ECF No. 1 ¶ 2. Defendant
A&M is a contractor or subcontractor in the sprinkler
industry and at all times was an “employer in an
industry affecting commerce” as defined in §§
501(1), (3), 2(2) of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29
U.S.C. §§ 142(1), (3) and 152(2); §§
3(5), (9), (11), (12), (14) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§
1002(5), (9), (11), (12), (14); and § 3 of the
Multi-Employer Pension Plan Amendments of 1980, 29 U.S.C.
parties entered into a CBA on March 7, 2014. The CBA required
Defendant to submit reports and pay to Plaintiffs' Funds
certain contributions for each hour worked by certain of
Defendant's employees covered under the CBA. ECF No. 1
¶ 5. The CBA covered certain of Defendant's
employees from February 2016 through the filing of the
Complaint. ECF No. 1 ¶ 6. Defendant has failed to make
contributions and submit reports for the months of March to
May 2018, as required under the CBA. ECF No. 1 ¶ 8.
Additionally, A&M's contributions owed on behalf of
its employees covered under the CBA were late for the months
of February, April, and October of 2016; January through June
of 2017; August 2017; and February through April of 2018. ECF
No. 1 ¶¶ 11-12.
15, 2018, NASI Funds filed this action against A&M,
seeking to recover contributions and liquidated damages due
and unpaid by Defendant under the terms of the CBA and Trust
Agreements, plus accrued interest, costs, and attorneys'
fees. ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs properly served A&M on July
27, 2018. ECF No. 5. A&M failed to answer or otherwise
respond to the Complaint or contest Plaintiffs' claims.
On October 29, 2018, the Clerk of the Court filed an entry of
default pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. ECF No. 6. NASI Funds then moved for Default
Judgment against A&M on November 19, 2018, under Rule
55(b). ECF Nos. 6-7.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a), “[w]hen 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).
Thereafter, the court may enter default judgment at the
plaintiff's request and with notice to the defaulting
party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). Plaintiff, however, is not
automatically entitled to default judgment simply because the
defendant has not responded. Whether to enter default
judgment is left to the sound discretion of the court.
See, e.g., Choice Hotels International, Inc. v.
Jai Shree Navdurga, LLC, DKC 11-2893, 2012 WL 5995248,
at *1 (D. Md. Nov. 29, 2012); see also Choice Hotels
International, Inc. v. Austin Area Hospitality, Inc.,
TDC 15-0516, 2015 WL 6123523, at *1 (D. Md. Oct. 14, 2015).
the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
announced a “strong policy” in favor of deciding
cases on their merits, United States v. Schaffer Equip.
Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993), default judgment
may be appropriate when a party is unresponsive. S.E.C.
v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md. 2005)
(citing Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 836 (D.C.
Cir. 1980)); see Park Corp. v. Lexington Ins. Co.,
812 F.2d 894, 896 (4th Cir. 1987) (upholding a default
judgment award where the defendant lost its summons and did
not respond within the proper period); Disney
Enterprises, Inc. v. Delane, 446 F.Supp.2d 402, 405-06
(D. Md. 2006) (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).
respect to liability, the court takes as true all
well-pleaded facts in the complaint. Ryan v. Homecomings
Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001);
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.”). The court applies the
pleading standards announced in Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), in the context of default
judgments. See, e.g., Balt. Line Handling Co. v.
Brophy, 771 F.Supp.2d 531, 544 (D. Md. 2011);
Russell v. Railey, No. DKC-08-2468, 2012 WL 1190972
at *2-3 (D. Md. Apr. 9, 2012); U.S. v. Nazarian, No.
DKC-10-2962, 2011 WL 5149832 at *2-3 (D. Md. Oct. 27, 2011);
Bogopa Serv. Corp. v. Shulga, No. 3:08cv365, 2009 WL
1628881, at *1-2 (W.D. N.C. June 10, 2009). A complaint that
avers bare legal conclusions or “naked assertion[s]
devoid of further factual enhancement, ” is
insufficient to award default judgment. See, e.g., Balt.
Line Handling Co., 771 F.Supp.2d at 544 (internal
quotation marks omitted) (“The record lacks any
specific allegations of fact that ‘show' why those
conclusions are warranted.”).
complaint avers sufficient facts from which the court may
find liability, the court next turns to damages. See
Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780-81. Damages are circumscribed by
that which is requested in the complaint. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 54(c) (“A default judgment must not differ
in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is demanded in the
pleadings.”). The damages request must be supported by
evidence introduced either at a hearing or by affidavit or
other records. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(c);
Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d at 422. See, e.g., Monge
v. Portofino Ristorante, 751 F.Supp.2d 789, 794-95 (D.
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)). Further, the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth ...