Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Laborers Local Union 158 v. On-Call Flagging, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 12, 2017

LABORERS LOCAL UNION 158, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
ON-CALL FLAGGING, INC., et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Kane Judge

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment. (Doc. No. 9.) As Defendants have yet to appear or defend in this action, no opposition to the motion has been filed. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion and enter default judgment in favor of Plaintiffs.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 11, 2016, Plaintiffs Laborers Local Union 158, Laborers Local Union 158 Pension Fund, and Laborers Local Union 158 Health and Welfare Fund initiated the above-captioned action by filing a four-count complaint against Defendants On-Call Flagging, Inc. (“On-Call Flagging”), and Kathleen Jennings (“Jennings”), pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185, Section 502 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(d), and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (“PWPCL”), 43 P.S. § 260. (Doc. No. 1.)

         The complaint alleges as follows. Plaintiff Laborers Local Union 158 (“LLU 158”) is an “employee organization” as defined by 29 U.S.C. § 1002(4) of ERISA. (Id. ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs Laborers Local Union 158 Pension Fund (“Pension Fund”), and Laborers Local Union 158 Health and Welfare Fund (“Health and Welfare Fund”) (collectively referred to herein as the “Funds”), are employee benefit plans within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3) of ERISA. (Id. ¶ 3.) On-Call Flagging is an “employer” within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 1002(5) of ERISA. (Id. ¶ 5.) Plaintiffs aver that On-Call Flagging is a signatory to a collective bargaining agreement with LLU 158. (Id. ¶ 7.) Pursuant to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, On-Call Flagging agreed to pay certain sums to each of the Funds based on the hours worked by employee-members of the bargaining unit represented by LLU 158. (Id. ¶ 8.) Moreover, the collective bargaining agreement requires On-Call Flagging to pay liquidated damages and interest in the event that it fails to make timely contributions. (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiffs claim that On-Call Flagging failed to contribute $12, 469.45 to the Health and Welfare Fund and $11, 152.80 to the Pension Fund for work performed by its employees for the month of October 2015, in breach of the governing collective bargaining agreement. (Id. ¶ 11.) Moreover, Plaintiffs allege that On-Call Flagging failed to remit to the Funds liquidated damages, penalties, attorney's fees, and interest. (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiffs seek to recover all unpaid contributions, assessed interest and penalties on such unpaid contributions, and attorney's fees and costs in the amount of $30, 560.07.

         A review of the docket reveals that on June 28, 2016, Jennings, in her capacity as president of On-Call Flagging, waived service of the summons and complaint on behalf of herself and On-Call Flagging. (Doc. No. 4.) Despite executing a formal waiver of service, Defendants subsequently failed to timely appear, answer, move, or otherwise respond to Plaintiffs' complaint. As a result, Plaintiffs requested the Clerk of Court to enter default against Defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a). (Doc. No. 6.) On August 19, 2016, the Clerk entered default against Defendants for failure to plead or otherwise defend in the above-captioned action. (Doc. No. 8.) On August 30, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a motion for default judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2), together with a brief in support thereto. (Doc. Nos. 9, 10.) In addition to filing the motion and supporting brief, Plaintiffs produced a number of exhibits, including the affidavits of John B. Dougherty and Paul Desanto, copies of the relevant contractual provisions governing this dispute, [1] and an itemized report of the amounts owed. (Doc. Nos. 9-1, 10-1.) Plaintiffs also certified that copies of the motion for default judgment were mailed to Jennings at her last known address in Belsano, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 9-2 at 1.)

         As Defendants have not responded to the pending motion for default judgment, the Court deems Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment unopposed. Accordingly, this matter is now ripe for disposition.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Default judgments are governed by a two-step process set forth under Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. An entry of default by the clerk of court under Rule 55(a) is a prerequisite to a later entry of a default judgment under Rule 55(b). 10A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2682 (3d ed. 2007) (“Prior to obtaining a default judgment under either Rule 55(b)(1) or Rule 55(b)(2), there must be an entry of default as provided by Rule 55(a).”). Once the clerk of court has entered a default, the party seeking the default may then move for the court to enter a default judgment under Rule 55(b)(2). Entry of default does not entitle a claimant to default judgment as a matter of right. 10 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice § 55.31 (Matthew Bender ed. 2010). Indeed, it is well settled that decisions relating to the entry of default judgments are committed to the sound discretion of the district court. Emcasco Ins. Co.v. Sambrick, 834 F.2d 71, 74 (3d Cir. 1987).

         Three factors control the exercise of the district court's discretion in assessing whether default judgment should be granted following the entry of default: “(1) prejudice to the plaintiff if default is denied, (2) whether the defendant appears to have a litigable defense, and (3) whether defendant's delay is due to culpable conduct.” Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 164 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing United States v. $55, 518.05 in U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d 192, 195 (3d Cir. 1984)). If the defendant has been properly served but fails to appear, plead, or defend an action, a court may “enter a default judgment based solely on the fact that the default occurred, ” without considering the Chamberlain factors. Anchorage Assocs. v. Virgin Islands Bd. of Tax Review, 922 F.2d 168, 177 n.9 (3d Cir. 1990).

         “A finding that default judgment is appropriate, however, is not the end of the inquiry.” Martin v. Nat'l Check Recovery Servs., LLC, No. 12-1230, 2016 WL 3670849, at *1 (M.D. Pa. July 11, 2016). Prior to entering a default judgment, the Court must also determine whether the “unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action.” Wright et al., supra, at § 2688; Broad. Music, Inc. v. Spring Mount Area Bavarian Resort, Ltd., 555 F.Supp.2d 537, 541 (E.D. Pa. 2008) (“Consequently, before granting a default judgment, the Court must . . . ascertain whether the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action, since a party in default does not admit mere conclusions of law.”) (citations omitted). In conducting this inquiry, “the well-pleaded, factual allegations of the complaint . . . are accepted as true and treated as though they were established by proof.” E. Elec. Corp. of N.J. v. Shoemaker Const. Co., 652 F.Supp.2d 599, 605 (E.D. Pa. 2009) (citation omitted). However, while the Court must accept as true the well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint, the Court need not accept the moving party's factual allegations or legal conclusions relating to the amount of damages. Comdyne I, Inc. v. Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142, 1149 (3d Cir. 1990).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Having reviewed the record, including Plaintiffs' complaint, motion, supporting brief, and accompanying affidavits, the Court finds that entry of default judgment against Defendants and in favor of Plaintiffs is appropriate. As an initial matter, the Court observes that Plaintiffs' unchallenged allegations in the complaint, taken as true, sufficiently state causes of action under, inter alia, ERISA and the PWPCL. Specifically, Section 502 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2), permits a “fiduciary for or on behalf of a plan to enforce [29 U.S.C. §] 1145 . . . in which a judgment in favor of the plan is awarded.” 29 U.S.C. § 1145 provides that “[e]very employer who is obligated to make contributions to a multi-employer 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 terms and conditions of such plan or such agreement.” 29 U.S.C. § 1145. Where entry of default judgment in favor of the plan fiduciary is appropriate, Section 502(g)(2) instructs the court to award: (1) unpaid contributions; (2) interest on the unpaid contributions; (3) liquidated damages; (4) reasonable attorney's fees and costs; and (5) such other relief as the court deems warranted. 29 U.S.C. § 1132 (g)(2).

         Similarly, the PWPCL authorizes unions to institute suit against employers to recover delinquent benefit fund contributions, liquidated damages, and reasonable attorney's fees. 43 P.S. §§ 260.a(a)-(f) (“Any employe[e] or group of employe[e]s, labor organization or party to whom any type of wages is payable may institute actions provided under this act . . . to recover unpaid wages and liquidated damages . . . in addition to reasonable attorney['s]fees.”). Accordingly, the Court finds that the complaint asserts a legitimate cause of action against Defendants, as it sufficiently alleges Plaintiffs' entitlement to the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.