United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
TRUSTEES OF THE SHEET METAL WORKERS' LOCAL UNION NO. 100, WASHINGTON, D.C. AREA PENSION FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
LOHMEIER'S SHEET METAL, INC. et al., Defendants.
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
September 5, 2017, Plaintiffs Trustees of the Sheet Metal
Workers' Local Union No. 100, Washington, D.C. Area
Pension Fund, Trustees of the Sheet Metal Workers' Local
Union No. 100, Washington, D.C. Area Apprenticeship Fund,
Trustees of the Sheet Metal Workers' Local Union No. 100,
Washington, D.C. Area Vacation Fund, Trustees of the Sheet
Metal Workers' Local Union No. 100, Washington, D.C. Area
401(k) Fund, Trustees of the Sheet Metal Workers' Local
Union No. 100, Washington, D.C. Area Recruitment Fund,
Trustees of the Sheet Metal Workers' Local Union No. 100,
Washington, D.C. Area Health Benefit Fund (collectively,
“The Funds”), and International Association of
Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, Local
Union No. 100 (“Local 100”) brought this action
against Defendants Lohmeier's Sheet Metal, Inc. and Terry
Lee Lohmeier pursuant to the Employee Retirement and Income
Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C.
§§ 1132(a)(3), 1132(a)(3), 1145, and the
Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), to
recover amounts owed to the funds under the terms of a
Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) and for
injunctive relief to require Defendants to submit to an audit
pursuant to the terms of the CBA. ECF No. 1. The Clerk has
entered default, and Plaintiffs have moved for a default
judgment. ECF No. 8 No hearing is necessary. See
Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons,
Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment is granted.
Funds are multiemployer employee benefit plans as defined in
29 U.S.C. §§ 1002(3), 1002(37). ECF No. 1
¶¶ 1-6. The Funds are established and maintained in
accordance with their respective Agreement and Declarations
of Trust. Id. Local 100 is a labor organization as
defined in 29 U.S.C. § 152(5). Id. ¶ 7.
The Funds and Local 100 are all located in Maryland.
Id. ¶¶ 1-7. Defendant Terry Lee Lohmeier
is a resident of the state of Maryland and an individual
doing business as Defendant Lohmeier Sheet Metal, Inc.
Id. ¶ 8. Defendants operate as a contractor or
subcontract in the sheet metal industry, and at all times
relevant to this action were employers “in an industry
affecting commerce” as defined by ERISA, 29 U.S.C.
§§ 1002(5), (9), (11), (12) and (14), and by the
Labor Management Relations Act, 28 U.S.C. §§
142(1), (3) and 152(2). Id. ¶ 10.
allege that Defendants are bound by the terms of the CBA
between Local 100 and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning
Contractors National Association Mid-Atlantic Chapter (the
“Association”) effective July 1, 2014 through
June 30, 2017. Id. ¶ 11. Specifically, the CBA
bound Defendants to the Funds' Agreements and
Declarations of Trust. Id. ¶ 19. Defendants
were obligated to “submit reports and pay to [The
Funds] certain sums of money for each hour worked by
employees of the Defendants” covered by the CBA.
Id. ¶ 16. Under the terms of the agreement,
Defendants must pay this money each month. ECF No. 8-2 at 58.
The Complaint originally alleged that Defendants failed to
make these payments for the months of June and July, 2016,
and February, March, May, June, and July, 2017. Id.
¶ 18. However, Defendants have since made the payments
for those months and Plaintiffs now seek payments for the
months of July through December, 2017. ECF No. 8 at 4. The
CBA and the Agreements and Declarations of Trust contain
provisions that hold an employer who defaults on these
payments liable for an additional 20% of the unpaid
contributions in liquidated damages and interest calculated
at a rate of 12% per annum. Id. at 97. They also
contain provisions requiring employers to “promptly
furnish to the Board of Trustees on demand, any and all
records relating to such Employer's Employees determined
by the Board of Trustees to be needed to determine that the
appropriate Contributions are being made to the Fund.”
Id. at 96.
Complaint in this case was filed on September 5, 2017. ECF
No. 1. The summons was returned executed on September 19,
2017. ECF No. 4. Defendants never filed a responsive
pleading, and on February 7, 2018, Plaintiffs moved for an
entry of default. ECF No. 5. On March 30, 2018, the Clerk
entered default against Lohmeier's Sheet Metal, Inc. ECF
No. 7. On April 18, 2018, Plaintiffs moved for default
judgment in the amount of $23, 562.91 and for an injunction
to enforce the audit agreement. ECF No. 8. The amount sought
consists of $16, 038.37 in unpaid contributions due for work
performed between July and December 2017; $753.62 in interest
pursuant to the CBA's rate of 12% per annum; $3, 207.67
in liquidated damages pursuant to the CBA; $3, 073.25 in
attorney's fees (constituting 13.75 hours of work); and
$490.00 in costs. See ECF No. 8-2 at 97. Plaintiffs
also seek an injunction requiring Defendants to “submit
all payroll books and records to the Funds for an audit, at
Defendants' expense, for the period of January 1, 2016
through the present.” ECF No. 1 ¶ 27(c).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
defendant's default does not automatically entitle the
plaintiff to entry of a default judgment: rather, that
decision is left to the discretion of the court.”
Choice Hotels Intern., Inc. v. Savannah Shakti
Carp., No. DKC-11-0438, 2011 WL 5118328 at * 2 (D. Md.
Oct. 25.2011). Although “[t]he Fourth Circuit has a
‘strong policy' that ‘cases be decided on
their merits, '” id. (citing United
States v. Shaffer Equip. Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th
Cir.1993)), “default judgment may be appropriate when
the adversary process has been halted because of an
essentially unresponsive party[.]” Id.
default, the well-pled allegations in a complaint as to
liability are taken as true, although the allegations as to
damages are not.” S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh, 359
F.Supp.2d 418, 422 (D. Md. 2005). The pleadings in the
complaint must constitute a legitimate cause of action, as
analyzed under the Iqbal/Twombley pleading standard.
Baltimore Line Handling Co. v. Brophy, 771
F.Supp.2d 531, 544 (D. Md. 2011). That is, the
“complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, ‘to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plaintiffs
must “provide sufficient detail” to show “a
more-than-conceivable chance of success on the merits.”
Upstate Forever v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners,
887 F.3d 637, 645 (4th Cir. 2018) (citing Owens v. Balt.
City State's Attorneys Ofice, 767 F.3d 379, 396 (4th
pleadings in the complaint constitute a legitimate cause of
action, the Court must make an independent determination of
damages. See Agora Fin., LLC v. Samler, 725
F.Supp.2d 491, 494 (D. Md. 2010). In doing so, the Court need
not “accept factual allegations regarding damages as
true.” Id. The Court may not, however, enter a
default judgment that differs “in kind from, or exceed
in amount, what is demanded in the pleadings.”
ERISA, “[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 . . . make such contributions in accordance with the
terms and conditions of such plan or agreement.” 29
U.S.C. § 1145. Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that
Defendants were bound by the terms of the CBA between Local
100 and the Association, and by the Funds' Agreements and
Declarations of Trust, that these agreements required monthly
contributions for any hours worked by covered employees, and
that Defendants failed to make those payments. Plaintiffs
also plausibly allege that the CBA and the Agreements and
Declarations of Trust require disclosure of records relating
to Defendants' employees. Therefore, Plaintiff plausibly
alleges that Defendants have violated ERISA.
to damages, as a threshold matter, the Complaint requests
unpaid contributions for the months of June and July, 2016,
and February, March, May, June, and July, 2017. ECF No. 1
¶ 26. Plaintiffs also request “all amounts owed to
its employees and the Union under the terms of the Collective
Bargaining Agreement through and including the date of
judgment.” Id. ¶ 27(D). Though Plaintiffs
now seek, instead, payments for the months of July through
December, 2017, this Court has repeatedly held that where
plaintiffs seek “an additional unspecified amount that
would become due in subsequent months . . . defendants
properly ‘had notice of what could be included in any
additional damages.” See Trs. Of the Nat'l
Automatic Sprinkler Indus. Welfare Fund v. Harvey, No.
GJH-17-449, 2017 WL 4898264, at *5 (D. Md. Oct. 27, 2017)
(citing Trs. Of the Nat'l Automatic Sprinkler Indus.
Welfare Fund v. Harvey, No. GJH-15-521, 2016 WL 297425,
at *6 (D. Md. Jan. 21, 2016)). Therefore, the award of
damages for the months of July through December, 2017, does
not violate the rule prohibiting a default judgment from
differing “in kind from, or exceed[ing] in amount, what
is demanded in the pleadings.” Samler, 725
F.Supp.2d at 494.
provides that if a court enters a judgment in favor of the
Plaintiff, then the court's ...