United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
TRUSTEES OF THE PLUMBERS AND PIPEFITTERS NATIONAL PENSION FUNE et al., Plaintiffs,
THERMAL MECHANICAL, INC., Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
D. Davis United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on the Trustees of the Plumbers
and Pipefitters National Pension Fund ("NPF") and
the Trustees of the International Training Fund's
("ITF") (collectively, "Plaintiffs")
Motion for Default Judgment against Thermal Mechanical, Inc.,
("Defendant”) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(b)(2). (Dkt. No. 11.) After a licensed attorney
for Defendant failed to appear at the hearing on February 17,
2017, the undersigned Magistrate Judge took this matter under
advisement. Upon consideration of the Complaint,
Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment and the
supporting memoranda and affidavits thereto, the undersigned
Magistrate Judge makes the following findings and recommends
that default judgment be entered against Defendant.
September 19, 2016, 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 under Section 301(a)
and (c) of the Labor Management Relations Act
("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a) and (c).
(See Compl. ¶ 4.) These Acts allow parties to
enforce provisions of collective bargaining agreements. In
their Complaint, Plaintiffs seek unpaid contributions,
interest on unpaid contributions, late fees, liquidated
damages, injunctive relief,  and attorney's fees and
costs, pursuant to ERISA and the LMRA. (Compl. ¶¶
14(AHD), 21(A)-(D)> 25(A)-(B).)
Jurisdiction and Venue
court to render default judgment against a party, it must
have subject matter and personal jurisdiction over the party
and be the appropriate venue for the action. This Court has
subject matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331 because this case arises under ERISA and
the LMRA, which are federal laws. Furthermore, "[a suit]
for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor
organization representing employees in an industry affecting
commerce . . . may be brought in any district court of the
United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without
respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the
citizenship of the parties." 29 U.S.C. § 185(a).
court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant in
an ERISA action, the defendant must be served with process
and have "sufficient aggregate contacts with the United
States as a whole, " pursuant to the Fifth Amendment.
Bd. of Trs., Sheet Metal Workers' Nat'l Pension
Fund v. McD Metals, Inc., 964 F.Supp. 1040, 1044 (E.D.
Va. 1997) (holding that because ERISA provides for nationwide
service of process, the Fifth Amendment "national
contacts" theory, rather than Virginia's long-arm
statute, applies). As discussed below, Defendant was properly
served with process. Because Defendant is incorporated under
Montana law and transacts business in Montana, (Compl. ¶
3), Defendant has sufficient contacts with the United States
for this Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over it.
See McD Metals, 964 F.Supp. at 1045. Therefore, this
Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant.
as to venue, an ERISA action may be brought in the
"district where the plan is administered." 29
U.S.C. § 1132(e)(2). In this case, the Funds are
administered in Alexandria, Virginia, which is within the
Eastern District of Virginia. (See Compl. ¶ 1.)
An LMRA action may be brought "in any district court of
the United States having jurisdiction of the parties."
Id. § 185(a). As discussed above, this Court
has jurisdiction over the parties. Therefore, venue is
appropriate in this Court.
Service of Process
29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(e)(2) and 185(d), service of
process is proper in any district where a defendant resides
or may be found. When a plaintiff fails to serve a defendant
properly under federal or state law, a court lacks personal
jurisdiction and may not enter default judgment against the
defendant. Omni Capital Int'l, Ltd. v. Wolff &
Co., 484 U.S. 97, 104 (1987), (stating "[s]ervice
of summons is the procedure by which a court having venue and
jurisdiction of the subject matter of the suit asserts
jurisdiction over the person of the party served."
(quoting Miss. Publ'g Corp. v. Murphree, 326
U.S. 438, 444-45 (1946))), superseded by statute on other
grounds, FED. R. Civ. P. 4(k); Cent. Operating Co.
v. Util. Workers of Am., 491 F.2d 245, 249, 251 (4th
Cir. 1974) (reversing the district court's decision to
enter default judgment against a non-resident defendant
because the court lacked personal jurisdiction where the
plaintiff failed to effectively serve the defendant with
summons and complaint).
§§ 1132(e) and 185(d) state where a defendant may
be served, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide the
manner in which service must occur. Under Rule 4(h), service
upon a corporation, partnership, or other unincorporated
association shall be effectuated "in the manner
prescribed by Rule 4(e)(1) for serving an individual; or by
delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an
officer, a managing or general agent, or any other agent
authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of
process." Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(h).
October 29, 2016, a private process server served Ronald
Schaeffer, Defendant's registered agent, with a true and
correct copy of the Summons and Complaint. (Dkt. No. 5.)
Therefore, Plaintiffs properly served Defendant pursuant to
29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(e)(2) and 185(d) and Rule 4(h).
Grounds for Default
filed their Complaint on September 19, 2016. (Dkt. No. 1.)
Defendant has failed to appear, answer, or file any other
responsive pleadings in this matter. On December 23, 2016,
Plaintiffs filed a Request for Entry of Default with the
Clerk. (Dkt. No. 8.) On December 28, 2016, the Clerk entered
default against the Defendant. (Dkt. No. 9.) On January 27,
2017, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Default Judgment, and the
Court conducted a hearing on the matter on February 17, 2017.
(Dkt. Nos. 11, 14.) After Defendant failed to appear ...