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Board of Trustees v. Leading Way Construction Co., Inc.

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

November 16, 2016

BOARD OF TRUSTEES, NATIONAL STABILAZATION AGREEMENT OF THE SHEET M INDUSTRY TRUST FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
LEADING WAY CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          THERESA CARROLL BUCHANAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment (Dkt. 25.) When no representative for defendant appeared at the hearing before Judge Nachmanoff on September 23, 2016, the undersigned Magistrate Judge took the matter under advisement to issue this Report and Recommendation.[1]

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A. Background

         Plaintiffs are the Board of Trustees of the National Stabilization Agreement of the Sheet M Industry Trust Fund ("SASMI"), the Board of Trustees of the Sheet M Workers' National Pension Fund ("NPF"), the Board of Trustees of the International Training Institute for the Sheet M and Air Conditioning Industry ("ITI"), the Board of Trustees of the Sheet M Workers' International Association Scholarship Fund ("SMWIASF"), the National Energy Management Institute Committee ("NEMIC"), and the Sheet M Occupational Health Institute Trust ("SMOHIT") (collectively "plaintiffs" or "Funds"). Plaintiffs are trust funds established and maintained under 29 U.S.C. § 186(c). (Compl. ¶¶ 4-7, 10-11; Shaw Decl. ¶ 1.) Plaintiffs SASMI, NPF, ITI, and SWMIASF are also multiemployer plans and employee welfare benefit plans within the meaning of 29 U.S.C § 1002. (Compl. ¶¶ 4-7; Shaw Decl. ¶ 2.)

         Defendant, Leading Way Construction Co., Inc., d/b/a Leading Way Roofing & Sheet M d/b/a Leading Way Roofing & SM ("defendant"), is a Massachusetts corporation and an employer in an industry affecting commerce that does business with plaintiff Funds. (Compl. ¶ 15.) At all times relevant to this action, defendant was a party to a collective bargaining agreement with Local Union No. 17 of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, formerly known as the Sheet M Workers' International Association. (Id. at ¶¶ 16-17; Shaw Decl. ¶ 4; Mem. Supp. Mot. Default J. 2.) Defendant also agreed to abide by the terms of the agreements and declarations of trust ("Trust Agreements") establishing the Funds. (Compl. ¶ 18; Shaw Decl. ¶ 4.)

         Plaintiffs filed this action under 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 ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185, which govern suits among parties to enforce provisions of their collective bargaining agreements. (Compl. ¶ 1; Mot. Default J. ¶ 12; Mem. Supp. Mot. Default J. 1-2.) They seek unpaid contributions, liquidated damages, interest, late charges, audit costs, and attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to ERISA, LMRA, and the collective bargaining agreement. (Compl. ¶¶ 29, 33; Mot. Default J. 4; Mem. Supp. Mot. Default J. 10-15.)

         B. Jurisdiction and Venue

         Jurisdiction and venue over ERISA and LMRA cases such as this are conferred upon the Court by 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132, 1145, and 185. Under Sections 502 and 515 of ERISA, an action may be brought in any district court of the United States in which the relevant benefit plan is administered, where the alleged breach took place, or where a defendant resides or may be found. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(2). Furthermore, under Section 301 of LMRA, a suit for breach of contract between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce may be brought in federal district court, regardless of the amount in controversy or citizenship of the parties. 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). In this case, jurisdiction and venue are proper because each Fund is administered in this District. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 3; Shaw Decl. ¶ 1.)

         This Court has personal jurisdiction over defendant pursuant to the decision in Board of Trustees, Sheet M Workers' National Pension Fund v. McD Metals, Inc., 964 F.Supp. 1040, 1045 (E.D. Va. 1997). Defendant does business with plaintiffs that is sufficient to create personal jurisdiction over defendant in this district, and a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred from transactions with plaintiffs' office in this district. (Compl. ¶ 15.)

         C. Service of Process

         On February 9, 2016, plaintiffs' private process server served defendant by delivering a copy of the Complaint and Summons to Gerry M. Grabert, President, who is authorized to accept service of process on behalf of defendant Leading Way Construction Co., Inc. at 443 Poplar Street, Roslindale, MA 02131. (Dkt. 18.) Therefore, service was proper under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 4(e) and 4(h) and under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(2), which provides that process may be served in any district where a defendant resides or may be found.

         D. Grounds for Default Judgment

         Defendant has not appeared, answered, or otherwise filed any responsive pleadings in this case. On April 20, 2016, the Clerk of this Court entered default pursuant to plaintiffs' Request for Entry of Default and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a). (Dkt. 20.) ...


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