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Trustees of Plumbers & Pipefitters National Pension Fund v. JTL Air Conditioning & Refridgeration, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

October 14, 2016



          Michael S. Nachmanoff United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment (Dkt. No. 10) against Defendant JTL Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, Inc. Having reviewed the record, the undersigned Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court enter default judgment against Defendant in the total amount of $4, 660.67.

         I. Procedural Background

         On May 12, 2016, Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendant for failure to pay contributions from June 2015 through March 2016 pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement in violation of Sections 502 and 515 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132 and 1145, and Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185. Defendant's authorized agent was served by private process server on July 2, 2016. See Executed Summons (Dkt. No. 5). Defendant did not enter an appearance or otherwise respond to the Complaint and, on September 12, 2016, the Clerk entered default against the Defendant. See Entry of Default (Dkt. No. 9). On September 16, 2016, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion for Default Judgment (Dkt. No. 10). Defendant failed to appear at the hearing on this Motion on September 30, 2016, and the undersigned Magistrate Judge took the matter under advisement.

         II. Factual Background

         The following facts are established by the Complaint and by the memorandum, declarations, and exhibits submitted in support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment.

         Plaintiffs Trustees of the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund (“National Pension Fund”) are the trustees of a multi-employer employee benefit plan, as defined by ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1002(3), (37). Compl. ¶ 1 (Dkt. No. 1). The National Pension Fund is administered in Alexandria, Virginia, and maintained by a Restated Agreement and Declaration of Trust (“Trust Agreement”) and by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“Bargaining Agreement”) between the United Association Local Union No. 630 and the Defendant. Id.

         Defendant is a Florida corporation existing under the laws of the State of Florida. Compl. ¶ 2 (Dkt. No. 1). Defendant transacts business in the State of Florida as a contractor or subcontractor in the plumbing and pipefitting industry. Id. At all relevant times, Defendant was an “employer in an industry affecting commerce” as defined by the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 142(1), (3) and 152(2), ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(5), (9), (11), (12), (14), and the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980, 29 U.S.C. § 1001a. Compl. ¶ 2 (Dkt. No. 1). Defendant is a signatory to the aforementioned Bargaining Agreement with Local Union No. 630 establishing the terms and conditions of employment for journeymen and apprentice plumbers and pipefitters employed by Defendant. Id. ¶ 4. As a signatory to the Bargaining Agreement, Defendant is bound by the Trust Agreement. Id. ¶¶ 12, 19. Under the terms of the Bargaining Agreement, Defendant agreed to pay Plaintiffs certain sums of money for each hour worked by employees of the Defendant covered by the Bargaining Agreement. Id. ¶ 5. During the relevant period and continuing thereafter, Defendant employed employees covered by the Bargaining Agreement. Id. ¶ 6.

         Defendant has failed to make $1, 745.39 in contributions due to Plaintiffs on behalf of Local Union No. 630 members from June 2015 through March 2016. Compl. ¶¶ 7, 14, 16A (Dkt. No. 1). Through the instant action, Plaintiffs seek a judgment against Defendant for the payment of $1, 921.27 in delinquent contributions, plus $192.13 in liquidated damages, $186.18 in interest, $1, 695.00 in attorneys' fees, and $836.29 in costs pursuant to the Bargaining Agreement, Trust Agreement, ERISA, and the LMRA.[1] Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Default J. 2 (Dkt. No. 11).

         III. Service of Process and Jurisdiction

         The docket reflects that Defendant was properly served via its registered agent. See Executed Summons (Dkt. No. 5); see also Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Default J. 1-2 (Dkt. No. 11). This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 as this action arises under federal law. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant under 29 U.S.C. §§ 185(c) and 1132(e)(2). Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because the funds in question are administered within the Eastern District of Virginia and because a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claims against Defendant occurred in this District. See Bd. of Trs., Sheet Metal Workers Nat'l Pens. Fund v. McD Metals, Inc., 964 F.Supp. 1040, 1045 (E.D. Va. 1997).

         IV. Legal Standard

         Default judgment is appropriate if the well-pled allegations of the complaint establish a plaintiff's entitlement to relief and the defendant has failed to plead or defend within the time frame contained in the rules. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55; Music City Music v. Alfa Foods, Ltd., 616 F.Supp. 1001, 1002 (E.D. Va. 1985). By defaulting, a defendant admits the plaintiff's well-pled allegations of fact, which then provide the basis for judgment. Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975)); Partington v. Am. Int'l Specialty Lines Ins. Co., 443 F.3d 334, 341 (4th Cir. 2006) (default has the effect of admitting the factual allegations in the complaint). Here, as Defendant has not answered or otherwise timely responded, it has admitted the well-pled allegations of fact contained in the Complaint.

         V. ...

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