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Trustees of Plumbers v. Blue Matrix, LLC

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

June 19, 2019

TRUSTEES OF THE PLUMBERS AND PIPEFITTERS NATIONAL PENSION FUND, Plaintiff,
v.
BLUE MATRIX, LLC, Defendant.

          REPORT & RECOMMENDATION

          MICHAEL S. NACHMANOFF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff Trustees of the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund's (“plaintiff” or “National Pension Fund”) Motion for Default Judgment (Dkt. No. 11). Having reviewed the record and the pleadings, the undersigned Magistrate Judge recommends entering default judgment in plaintiff's favor for the reasons that follow.

         I. Procedural Background

         On April 8, 2019, plaintiff filed the instant action against Blue Matrix, LLC (“defendant”) alleging that defendant breached a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the United Association Local Union No. 51 (“Local Union 51”) and seeking an award for past due contributions, liquidated damages, interest, attorney's fees and costs, and for injunctive relief. Compl. (Dkt. No. 1) ¶¶ 4-18. The summons, Complaint, and supporting documents were served on defendant on April 16, 2019 (Dkt. No. 5). Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a), a responsive pleading was due 21 days later on May 7, 2019. Defendant failed to file a responsive pleading in a timely manner.

         On May 15, 2019, plaintiff filed a Request for Entry of Default Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 55(a) (Dkt. No. 9). The Clerk of Court entered an Entry of Default on May 16, 2019 (Dkt. No. 10). On May 20, 2019, plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment (Dkt. No. 11), along with a Memorandum in Support of Motion for Default Judgment (Dkt. No. 12) and a Notice of Motion for Default Judgment with Certificate of Service (Dkt. No. 13). Plaintiff's motion was supported by an affidavit from Toni C. Inscoe (Dkt. Nos. 12-1) and a declaration from John R. Harney (Dkt. No. 12-2). On May 31, 2019, counsel for plaintiff appeared at the hearing on the motion for default judgment and no one appeared on behalf of defendant (Dkt. No. 14).

         II. Factual Background

         The following facts are established by the Complaint, the memorandum in support of the motion for default judgment, and the affidavit and declaration attached to the memorandum in support of the motion for default judgment.

         Plaintiff is the trustees of a multi-employer employee benefit plan as defined in Sections 3(3) and 3(37) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1002(3) and (37). Compl. (Dkt. No. 1) ¶ 1. The National Pension Fund is established and maintained by a Restated Agreement, Declaration of Trust, and Collective Bargaining Agreement between Local Union 51 and defendant. Id. The fund is administered in Alexandria, Virginia. Id. Defendant is a domestic limited liability company existing under Massachusetts law with an office located in South Attleboro, Massachusetts. Id. at ¶ 2. At all times, defendant transacted business as a contractor or subcontractor in the plumbing and pipefitting industry and was an “employer in an industry affecting commerce” as defined by Section 501(1), (3), and 2(2) of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 142(1), (3) and 152(2); Sections 3(5), (9), (11), (12), and (14) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1002(5), (9), (11), (12), and (14); and Section 3 of the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980, 29 U.S.C. § 1001a. Id.

         Plaintiff brings this action under Sections 502 and 515 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132 and 1145, and under Section 301(a) and (c) of LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), (c). Defendant is a signatory to the Collective Bargaining Agreement with Local Union No. 51 establishing the terms and conditions of employment for journeymen and apprentice plumbers and pipefitters employed by defendant. Id. at ¶ 4. Pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, defendant agreed to pay plaintiff certain sums of money for each hour worked by its employees covered by the agreement. Id. at ¶ 5. Plaintiff alleges two claims against defendant: Count I seeks damages for defendant's failure to submit reports and pay contributions to the National Pension Fund for the months of September 2018 through February 2019, [1] Id. at ¶¶ 4-14; and Count II seeks injunctive relief to require defendant to submit timely contributions and reports to plaintiff, Id. ¶ 15-18.

         With respect to Count I, plaintiff alleges that defendant failed to make contributions to the National Pension Fund in the amount of $18, 357.60 for the months of September through November 2018. Id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff further alleges that defendant failed to submit reports and pay contributions to the National Pension Fund for the months of January through February 2019. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff alleges that the amount of contributions is unknown for these months because of defendant's failure to submit reports identifying hours worked and amounts owed. Id. Pursuant to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, plaintiff states that defendant is obligated to pay such contributions. Id. at ¶ 10.

         Plaintiff also alleges that under the Restated Agreement and Declaration of Trust, Article VI, Section 5, an employer who fails to timely pay the amounts required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement shall be considered delinquent and may be assessed liquidated damages in the amount of 10% of the amount due if payment is not received by the date owed. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. Under this provision, plaintiff alleges that defendant is obligated to pay the National Pension Fund liquidated damages in the amount of $1, 835.76 for late payments for the months of September through November 2018. Id. at ¶ 13. Plaintiff also seeks liquidated damages for unreported and unpaid contributions for the months of January through February 2019. Id.

         Plaintiff also seeks interest, assessed at a rate of 12% per annum on the amount due from the date of delinquency until the date of payment, and costs and reasonable attorney's fees pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1332(g)(2) and 29 U.S.C. § 1961.

         III. Jurisdiction and Venue

         Jurisdiction and venue over ERISA and LMRA actions, such as the instant action, are conferred upon the Court pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132, 1145, and 185, which provide that 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. Here, jurisdiction and venue ...


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