United States District Court, D. Maryland
TRUSTEES OF THE NATIONAL AUTOMATIC SPRINKLER INDUSTRY WELFARE FUND, Plaintiffs,
AMIGO FIRE PROTECTION, LLC, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
TIMOTHY J. SULLIVAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Report and Recommendation addresses the Motion for Entry of
Default Judgment (“Motion”) (ECF No. 12) filed by
Plaintiffs, National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Welfare
Fund, National Automatic Sprinkler Local 669 UA Education
Fund, National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Pension Fund, the
International Training Fund, and Road Sprinkler Fitters Local
Union 669 Work Assessments and Extended Benefit Fund
(hereinafter, the “Funds”). Defendant Amigo Fire
Protection, LLC (“Amigo”) has not filed a
response, and the time for doing so has passed. See
Loc. R. 105.2(a). On July 8, 2018, in accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636 and pursuant to Local Rule 301.6, Judge
Chuang referred this case to me for a report and
recommendation on the Funds' Motion. (ECF No. 13.) I find
that a hearing is unnecessary in this case. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2); Loc. R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth
below, I respectfully recommend that the Funds' Motion be
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case, the Funds filed suit against Amigo under the Employee
Retirement Security Act of 1974, as amended,
(“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132 and 1145,
and Section 301 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”) (ECF No. 1.) Amigo was personally served
with the Complaint and summons (see ECF No. 5), but
it did not file an answer or responsive pleading within the
requisite time period. On April 25, 2019, the Funds moved for
the Clerk's entry of default (ECF No. 8), and the Clerk
entered default against Amigo on April 29, 2019. (ECF No.
10.) On April 30, 2019, the Funds filed the Motion, to which
Amigo has not responded.
Standard for Entry of Default Judgment
determining whether to award a default judgment, the Court
accepts as true the well-pleaded factual allegations in the
complaint as to liability. See Ryan v. Homecomings Fin.
Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780-81 (4th Cir. 2001);
United States ex rel. Durrett-Sheppard Steel Co. v. SEF
Stainless Steel, Inc., No. RDB-11-2410, 2012 WL 2446151,
at *1 (D. Md. June 26, 2012). Nonetheless, the Court must
consider whether the unchallenged facts constitute a
legitimate cause of action, since a party in default does not
admit mere conclusions of law. Ryan, 253 F.3d at
780. Although the Fourth Circuit has a “strong policy
that cases be decided on the merits, ” United
States v. Shaffer Equip. Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir.
1993), default judgment “is appropriate when the
adversary process has been halted because of an essentially
unresponsive party.” S.E.C. v. Lawbaugh, 359
F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md. 2005). If the Court determines
that liability is established, the Court must then determine
the appropriate amount of damages. CGI Finance, Inc., v.
Johnson, No. ELH-12-1985, 2013 WL 1192353, at *1 (D. Md.
March 21, 2013). The Court does not accept factual
allegations regarding damages as true, but rather must make
an independent determination regarding such allegations.
Durrett-Sheppard Steel Co., 2012 WL 2446151 at *1.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
“[i]f, after entry of default, the Plaintiff's
Complaint does not specify a ‘sum certain' amount
of damages, the court may enter a default judgment against
the defendant pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).” A
plaintiff's assertion of a sum in a complaint does not
make the sum “certain” unless the plaintiff
claims liquidated damages; otherwise, the complaint must be
supported by affidavit or documentary evidence. United
States v. Redden, No. WDQ-09-2688, 2010 WL 2651607, at
*2 (D. Md. June 30, 2012). Rule 55(b)(2) provides that
“the court may conduct hearings or make referrals . . .
when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to . . .
determine the amount of damages.” The Court is not
required to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine
damages, however; it may rely instead on affidavits or
documentary evidence in the record to determine the
appropriate sum. See, e.g., Mongue v. Portofino
Ristorante, 751 F.Supp.2d 789, 795 (D. Md. 2010).
provides 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. ERISA further provides that employers who fail
to make timely contributions are liable in a civil action for
unpaid contributions, interest on the unpaid contributions,
liquidated damages, reasonable attorney's fees and costs,
and any other relief the Court deems appropriate. 29 U.S.C.
§ 1132(a), (g).
following facts are taken from the Complaint (ECF No. 1) and
the Funds' Memorandum in support of their Motion (ECF No.
12-1) and the exhibits attached thereto. The Funds allege
that they are multiemployer employee pension benefit plans
within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3). (ECF No. 1
¶ 2.) The Funds are established and maintained pursuant
to the provisions of Restated Agreements and Declarations of
Trust and the CBA between Road Sprinkler Fitters and
Apprentices Local Union No. 669 (the “Union”) and
18, 2016, Amigo executed a Letter of Intent (ECF No. 12-5) in
which it designated Road Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 669 of
the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the
Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and
Canada (“Local 669”) as its exclusive
representative for collective bargaining regarding pay,
wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.
(ECF No. 12-4 at 1.) On March 31, 2017, Amigo and Local 669
executed a Project Agreement (ECF No. 12-6) for work
performed at an airport in New Orleans. Pursuant to the
Project Agreement, Amigo and Local 669 mutually agreed to be
bound to the terms and conditions of the CBA between the
National Fire Sprinkler Association, Inc. and Local 669,
which was effective from April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2021
(ECF No. 12-7).
established terms and conditions of employment for certain of
Amigo's employees. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 4.) Under
the CBA, Amigo agreed to pay the Funds certain sums of money
for each hour worked by employees covered by the CBA at the
New Orleans airport job. (Id. ¶ 5.) The CBA
also bound Amigo to the Declarations of Trust establishing
the Funds (“Trust Agreements”) (ECF Nos. 12-8,
12-9, 12-10, 12-11 & 12-12). Among other things, the
Trust Agreements provided that the Trustees of the Funds have
discretion to adopt rules and procedures concerning payments
to the Funds, audits, liquidated damages, and to enforce the
collection of delinquent contributions. (See ECF No.
12-4 at 2.) Pursuant to the authority delegated to them by
the Trust Agreements, the Trustees of the Funds adopted the
Guidelines for Participation in the Sprinkler Industry Trust
Funds (“Guidelines”) (ECF No. 12-13). A copy of
the Guidelines was mailed to Amigo. (ECF Nos. 12-4 at 2 &
failed to make its required contributions to the Funds for
the months of May 2018 through August 2018. (ECF No. 12-4 at
3.) Amigo transmitted remittance reports to the Funds for
these months, but it did not pay the required contributions.
(Id.) Accordingly, ...