Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund v. Paper Master LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 22, 2019

INTERNATIONAL PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES INDUSTRY PENSION FUND, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
PAPER MASTER LLC Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          Stephanie A. Gallagher United States Magistrate Judge

         This Report and Recommendations addresses the Motion for Default Judgment filed by Plaintiffs, International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund (“Fund” or “Pension Fund”), Tim D. Maitland (“Maitland”), Finishing Trades Institute (“FTI”), Political Action Together Fund (“PAT Fund”), and Painters and Allied Trades Labor Management Cooperation Initiative (“LMCI”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs” or “Funds”) against Defendant Paper Master LLC (“Defendant”), ECF 12. Defendant did not file an opposition, and the deadline to do so has now passed. See Local Rule 105.2.a (D. Md. 2018). On July 12, 2019, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rules 301 and 302, Judge Chuang referred this case to me to review Plaintiffs' motion and to make recommendations concerning damages. ECF 13. I have reviewed Plaintiffs' motion and accompanying attachments. No. hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons discussed below, I respectfully recommend that Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment be GRANTED, and that damages be awarded as set forth herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 9, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint in this Court alleging that Defendant failed to make contributions required under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) and governing contracts. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant employed members of local labor unions or district councils affiliated with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (“the Union”) and agreed to abide by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”). Complaint ¶ 16. The CBA, along with the Agreement and Declaration of Trust of the Fund (“Trust Agreement”), established and maintained the Pension Fund. Id. ¶¶ 17-18. The Pension Fund and Maitland are authorized collection fiduciaries and agents for the International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Plan and the International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Annuity Plan, each of which is a “multiemployer plan, ” “employee benefit plan, ” and “employee benefit pension plan” as defined by ERISA. Id. ¶¶ 5-8. The Pension Fund and Maitland are also authorized collection fiduciaries and agents for the LMCI, an entity that performs certain employer association functions, and for the FTI and PAT. Id. ¶¶ 8, 9, 13.

         As a corporate employer utilizing Union employees, Defendant agreed to abide by the terms of the CBA and the Trust Agreement. Id. ¶¶ 16-17. Those obligations included (1) making full and timely payment on a monthly basis to the Funds as required by the CBA, Trust Agreement and plan documents; (2) filing monthly remittance reports with the Pension Fund detailing all the employees or work for which contributions were required under the CBA; (3) producing books and records for an audit upon request by the Funds; and (4) paying liquidated damages, interest, audit costs, and litigation costs including attorneys' fees expended by the Funds in collecting amounts due as a result of Defendant's failure to comply with its contractual and statutory obligations. Id. ¶ 18.

         On or about June 14, 2018, the Funds completed an audit of Defendant's books and records from June 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016. Id. ¶ 19. On January 9, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint alleging that Defendant failed to pay amounts due under the CBA in at least the sum of $39, 862.76. Id. ¶ 22. The Complaint requests the sum certain amount “plus any additional amounts which become due and owing during the pendency of this litigation, together with liquidated damages, interest and costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in this action or the collection or enforcement of any judgment, as provided in the Labor Contracts and Trust Agreements.” Id. ¶ 27(1). The Complaint also seeks damages under ERISA for monies owed to the Pension Fund, “for at least the sum certain plus any additional amounts which may become due during the pendency of this lawsuit, together with interest at the rate(s) prescribed by 26 U.S.C. § 6621 from the due date for payment until the date of actual payment, liquidated damages equal to the greater of the interest on the unpaid contributions or liquidated damages provided by the documents governing the Funds or statute, the cost of any audit, and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred in this action or the collection or enforcement of any judgment all as provided under the Trust Agreements, Pension Plan, and 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2).” Id. ¶ 23(1).

         Defendant was served with the summons and Complaint on February 13, 2019. ECF 8. After Defendant failed to file an Answer or otherwise defend, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Entry of Default, ECF 9, on March 11, 2019, which the clerk granted on March 19, 2019, ECF 10. Plaintiffs thereafter filed a Motion for Judgment by Default, ECF 12, on May 13, 2019, seeking a total award of $64, 877.80. In support of their motion, Plaintiffs attached the Affidavit of Michael O'Malley, the Delinquency Manager of the Pension Fund, ECF 12-5, and Affidavit of Counsel, Judith Sznyter, Esq., ECF 12-16. Mr. O'Malley's affidavit alleged that, as of June 14, 2018, Defendant owed the Pension Fund $39, 025.78 in contributions, $5, 914.29 in interest, $7, 805.15 in liquidated damages, and $1, 277.41 in audit costs; owed LMCI $418.49 in contributions, $63.69 in interest, $83.70 in liquidated damages, and $10.67 in audit costs; owed FTI $418.49 in contributions, $63.69 in interest, $83.70 in liquidated damages, and $10.67 in audit costs; and PAT $171.19 in contributions, $24.93 in interest, and $34.24 in liquidated damages. Pl. Mot., Exh. 1, ¶ 9. Ms. Sznyter's affidavit supported a request for attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $9, 471.71. ECF 12-16.

         II. STANDARD FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

         In reviewing Plaintiffs' Motion for Judgment by Default, the court accepts as true the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as to liability. Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001). It, however, remains for the court to determine whether these unchallenged factual allegations constitute a legitimate cause of action. Id. at 780-81; see also 10A Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688 (3d ed. Supp. 2010) (“[L]iability is not deemed established simply because of the default . . . and the court, in its discretion, may require some proof of the facts that must be established in order to determine liability.”).

         If the court determines that liability is established, it must then determine the appropriate amount of damages. Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780-81. The court does not accept factual allegations regarding damages as true, but rather must make an independent determination regarding such allegations. See Credit Lyonnais Sec. (USA), Inc. v. Alcantara, 183 F.3d 151, 154 (2d Cir. 1999). In so doing, the court may conduct an evidentiary hearing. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). The court may also make a determination of damages without a hearing so long as there is an adequate evidentiary basis in the record for an award. See Adkins v. Teseo, 180 F.Supp.2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001) (“The court need not make this determination [of damages] through a hearing, however. Rather, the court may rely on detailed affidavits or documentary evidence to determine the appropriate sum.”); see also Trustees of the Nat'l Asbestos Workers Pension Fund v. Ideal Insulation, Inc., Civil No. ELH-11-832, 2011 WL 5151067, at *4 (D. Md. Oct. 27, 2011) (determining that, in a case of default judgment against an employer, “the Court may award damages without a hearing if the record supports the damages requested”); Pentech Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Old Dominion Saw Works, Inc., Civ. No. 6:09cv00004, 2009 WL 1872535, at *2 (W.D. Va. June 30, 2009) (concluding that there was “no need to convene a formal evidentiary hearing on the issue of damages” after default judgment where plaintiff submitted affidavits and electronic records establishing the amount of damages sought); JTH Tax, Inc. v. Smith, Civil No. 2:06CV76, 2006 WL 1982762, at *3 (E.D. Va. June 23, 2006) (“If the defendant does not contest the amount pleaded in the complaint and the claim is for a sum that is certain or easily computable, the judgment can be entered for that amount without further hearing.”).

         In sum, the court must (1) determine whether the unchallenged facts in Plaintiffs' Complaint constitute a legitimate cause of action, and, if they do, (2) make an independent determination regarding the appropriate amount of damages and the appropriate injunctive relief.

         III. DISCUSSION

         a. Defendant's Liability under ERISA and Contract Claims

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendant's failure to make its required contributions constitutes a breach of its contractual obligations, and therefore also constitutes a violation of Section 515 of ERISA and Section 185 of the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.