United States District Court, D. Maryland
INTERNATIONAL PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADE INDUSTRY PENSION FUND and TIM D. MAITLAND Plaintiffs
MARRERO GLASS & METAL INC. and METRO GLASS & METAL PUBLIC WORKS Defendants.
L. Hollander United States District Judge
International Painters and Allied Trade Industry Pension Fund
(“Pension Fund”) and Tim D. Maitland, in his
official capacity as a fiduciary of the Pension Fund, filed
suit against defendants Marrero Glass & Metal Inc.
(“Marrero”) and Metro Glass & Metal Public
Works (“Metro”). ECF 1 (“Complaint”).
Plaintiffs allege, inter alia, that the defendants
failed to make payments owed to the Pension Fund pursuant to
collective bargaining agreements. The Complaint is supported
by several exhibits (ECF 1-2 to ECF 1-8) and contains five
counts: “Contributions Under ERISA - Sum Certain”
(Count I); “Contributions Under Contract - Sum
Certain” (Count II); “Audit” (Count III);
“Contributions Under ERISA [-] After Audit”
(Count IV); and “Contributions Under Contract - After
Audit” (Count V). Id. ¶¶ 18-38.
have filed a “Motion to Dismiss Complaint, or in the
Alternative, Motion to Transfer Case, ” pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(7). ECF 12. It is supported by a
memorandum of law (ECF 12-1) (collectively, the
“Motion”) and an exhibit. ECF 12-2. Plaintiffs
oppose the Motion (ECF 15) and have submitted an exhibit. ECF
15-1. Defendants have replied (ECF 17) and filed additional
exhibits. ECF 17-1 to ECF 17-9.
Motion is fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary to
resolve it. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons
that follow, I shall transfer the case to the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404,
without consideration of the merits of the motion to dismiss.
and Metro are union glass and metal companies incorporated in
Pennsylvania. ECF 1, ¶¶ 9-10; ECF 12-1 at 1.
Plaintiffs maintain that Marrero and Metro “constitute
a single integrated business enterprise.” ECF 1, ¶
14. Marrero and Metro entered into “collective
bargaining agreement(s) (singly or jointly, “Labor
Contracts”) with one or more local labor unions or
district councils affiliated with the International Union of
Painters and Allied Trades” (“IUPAT”),
among other union entities. Id. ¶ 11; ECF 12-1
to the Labor Contracts, the defendants agreed to monthly
payments to the Pension Fund, a trust fund established under
29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5). ECF 1, ¶¶ 4, 13. They
also agreed to file monthly remittance reports and to produce
books and records upon request. Id. ¶
13. In the event of a breach of their contractual or
statutory duties, the defendants also allegedly agreed to pay
the Pension Fund liquidated damages, interest, and other
costs expended to collect amounts owed as a consequence of
the from the breach. Id.
allegedly failed to pay amounts due under these agreements
from July 2016 to December 2017. ECF 1, ¶ 19. Plaintiffs
assert that Marrero and Metro now owe the pension fund $59,
314.16 as a consequence. Id.; see also ECF
1-7 (calculating amount owed); ECF 1-8 (same).
matters were disputed in two cases filed in the District
Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on June 20,
2017: Metro Glass & Metal Company v. International
Union of Painters & Allied Trades District
Council No. 21 Health & Welfare Fund,
2:17-cv-02755-AB (E.D. Pa. June 20, 2017) (hereinafter
“Metro”), and International Union of
Painters & Allied Trades District Council No. 21 Health
& Welfare Fund v. Metro Glass & Metal Company,
2:17-cv-02757-AB (E.D. Pa. June 20, 2017) (hereinafter
“IUPAT”) (collectively, the
Metro, Marrero and Metro lodged contract and
commercial tort claims against several union entities,
including the Pension Fund. Metro, ECF 1. But,
Marrero and Metro, among other litigants, stipulated to
releasing the Pension Fund from the suit on July 26, 2017.
Id., ECF 17.
IUPAT, several union entities sued Marrero and Metro
for allegedly failing to make payments required by the
collective bargaining agreements. IUPAT, ECF 1. The
Pension Fund was not a party to this suit. See Id.
Nevertheless, the claims in IUPAT arose from many of
the same facts at issue in the instant matter. Compare
IUPAT, ECF 1, with ECF 1.
and IUPAT were consolidated on November 8, 2017.
Id., ECF 15. The cases were later settled, with the
parties filing a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice on
January 30, 2018. ECF 12-2; see also Metro, ECF 41;
IUPAT, ECF 18. By so doing, the union entities still
in the case released their claims against Marrero and Metro
by operation of a Settlement Agreement. ECF 12-1 at 2. On
February 14, 2018, the Pension Fund filed suit in this
District. ECF 1. Those claims arose from many of the same
allegations at issue in this case. Compare IUPAT,
ECF 1 with ECF 1.
move to transfer this case to the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). ECF 12-1
at 5-6. They contend that the transfer is proper from
“the standpoint of judicial economy” so that the
case may be consolidated with the Pennsylvania Litigation.
ECF 12-1 at 5. Moreover, they assert that “the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania will be a more convenient forum for
the majority of parties and witnesses involved.” ECF 17
at 4. Defendants note that “[m]ovants have no ties to
Maryland - they have no offices or employees in Maryland and
conduct no business in the state of Maryland.” ECF 17
Pension Fund disagrees, contending that ERISA heavily favors
the Pension Fund's choice of venue. ECF 15 at 8. Further,
it argues that the interest of justice supports this Court
retaining the case because Judge Anita B. Brody, who handled
the Pennsylvania Litigation, has denied Marrero's motion
for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction
to declare the instant case improper or enforce the
Settlement Agreement. ECF 15 at 10-11; see also
Metro, ECF 45.
1404(a) states, in relevant part: “For the convenience
of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a
district court may transfer any civil action to any other
district or division where it might have been brought.”
Notably, § 1404(a) “reflects an increased desire
to have federal civil suits tried in the federal system at
the place called for in the particular case by considerations
of convenience and justice.” Van Dusen v.
Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964). To that end, it helps
“to prevent the waste ‘of time, energy, and
money' and ‘to protect litigants, witnesses, and
the public against unnecessary inconvenience and
expense.'” I ...