United States District Court, D. Maryland
TRUSTEES OF THE NATIONAL AUTOMATIC SPRINKLER INDUSTRY WELFARE FUND, et al. Plaintiffs,
715 FIRE PROTECTION, LLC, et al. Defendants.
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, and Trustees of the International Training Fund’s
(“NASI Funds” or “Plaintiffs”) Motion
for Default Judgment. ECF No. 8. Defendants 715 Fire
Protection, LLC, (“715 Fire Protection”), Matthew
Jungbluth, and Sarah Jungbluth have not filed a response or
entered their appearance, and the time for doing so has
passed. See Loc. R. 105.2.a. For the following
reasons, NASI Funds’ request for this Court to enter
default judgment in the amount of $176,003.11 is GRANTED.
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). Plaintiff 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 715 Fire Protection. ECF No. 1
¶ 1. Defendant 715 Fire Protection is a contractor or
subcontractor in the sprinkler industry and at all times was
an “employer in an industry affecting commerce”
as defined in the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.
§§ 142(1), (3), 152(2); ERISA, 29 U.S.C.
§§ 1002(5), (9), (11), (12), (14); and the
Multi-Employer Pension Plan Amendments of 1980, 29 U.S.C.
§ 1001(a). Id. ¶ 2. Defendant Matthew
Jungbluth is the President of 715 Fire Protection.
Id. ¶ 3. Defendant Sarah Jungbluth is the
Registered Agent of 715 Fire Protection. Id. at 1.
entered into a CBA with 715 Fire Protection on April 23,
2015. ECF No. 1 ¶ 6; ECF No. 8-5. The CBA required 715
Fire Protection to submit reports and pay to Plaintiffs
certain contributions for each hour worked by certain of 715
Fire Protection’s employees under the CBA. ECF No. 1
¶ 6–8. The CBA covered certain of 715 Fire
Protection’s employees from August 2015 through the
filing of the Complaint. Id. ¶ 8; see
also ECF No. 8-6 (extending the relevant terms of the
Fire Protection had difficulty making the required benefit
contributions owed to Plaintiffs. ECF No. 1 ¶
9. In response, the Nasi Funds and 715 Fire Protection
entered into a Settlement Agreement and a Promissory Note
(“settlement documents”) on April 5, 2018.
Id.; ECF No. 8-15. The settlement documents provided
for the payment of the principal amount of $45,692.76 by 715
Fire Protection to NASI Funds in ten monthly installments.
ECF No. 1 ¶ 9. This amount reflected contributions owed
on behalf of employees performing work during the periods of
August 2015 through December 2016 and December 2017 through
February 2018, as well as for prior amounts owed. ECF No.
8-15 at 2. The settlement documents waived $24,416.77 in
liquidated damages contingent upon 715 Fire Protection making
the monthly payments under the settlement, filing all the
monthly reports, and paying all future monthly contributions
to the NASI Funds as they became due. Id. ¶ 3.
Individual Defendants Matthew and Sarah Jungbluth agreed
personally to guarantee the payments under the settlement
documents, including but not limited to payment of the
principal amount owed and future amounts that may become due
during the duration of the Settlement Agreement. ECF No. 1
715 Fire Protection defaulted on the terms of the settlement
documents by failing to make contributions between February
2018 and September 2018 and by failing to make the necessary
settlement payments on June 15 and July 15, 2018. ECF No. 1
¶ 11; ECF No. 8-4 ¶ 13.
August 1, 2018, NASI Funds filed this action against
Defendants, seeking to recover contributions and liquidated
damages due and unpaid by Defendants under the terms of the
CBA and Trust Agreements, as well as amounts due under the
settlement documents, plus accrued interest, costs, and
attorneys’ fees. See ECF No. 1 at 7. After the
filing of this action, 715 Fire Protection submitted
remittance reports for the months of February to August 2018
but did not make any payments to the Funds. ECF No. 8-4
September 6, 2018, Plaintiffs properly served 715 Fire
Protection and Matthew and Sarah Jungbluth. ECF Nos.
4–6. Defendants failed to respond to the Complaint or
otherwise contest the claims. On November 19, 2018 NASI Funds
moved for Entry of Default and Default Judgment against
Defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b). ECF
Nos. 7–8. On November 28, 2018, the Clerk entered
default pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a).
ECF No. 9. The Court now grants Plaintiffs’ Motion for
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 55 governs defaults and default
judgments and provides that default must be entered
“[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.” Fed.
R. Civ. P. 55(a). The court may then enter default judgment
at the plaintiff’s request and after notice is given to
the defaulting party. Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). Although
courts maintain “a strong policy that cases be decided
on the merits,” United States v. Schaffer Equip.
Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993), the court may
exercise its discretion in granting default judgment when the
“adversary process has been halted because of an
essentially unresponsive party.” S.E.C. v.
Lawbaugh, 359 F. Supp. 2d 418');">359 F. Supp. 2d 418, 421 (D. Md. 2005).
considering the propriety of default judgment, the court
takes as true the well-pleaded factual allegations of the
complaint, other than those pertaining to damages. 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 Balt. Line Handling Co. v. Brophy,
771 F. Supp. 2d 531');">771 F. Supp. 2d 531, 544 (D. Md. 2011). A complaint that
avers bare legal conclusions or “naked assertion[s]
devoid of further factual enhancement,” is insufficient
to award default judgment. Russell v. Railey, No.
DKC 08–2468, 2012 WL 1190972, at *3 (D. Md. Apr. 9,
2012) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678); see,
e.g., Balt. Line Handling Co., 771 F. Supp. 2d at 545
(“The record lacks any specific allegations of fact
that ‘show’ why those conclusions are
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; Monge
v. Portofino Ristorante, 751 F. Supp. 2d 789,
794–95 (D. Md. 2010).