United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
FRANK KELLY and TODD C. RAY, As Trustees of the PLUMBERS AND PIPEFITTERS LOCAL NO. 520 HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND; PLUMBERS AND PIPEFITTERS LOCAL NO. 520 PENSION FUND; PLUMBERS AND PIPEFITTERS LOCAL NO. 520 ANNUITY FUND, Plaintiffs
GAS FIELD SPECIALISTS, INC., Defendant
Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge
Frank Kelly and Todd C. Ray, as trustees of the Plumbers and
Pipefitters Local No. 520 Health and Welfare Fund, Pension
Fund, and Annuity Fund, commenced the above-captioned action
pursuant to Section 502(a) and Section 515 of the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C.
§§ 1132(a), 1145, against defendant Gas Field
Specialists, Inc. ("Gas Field"). The court
previously entered summary judgment against Gas Field on the
question of liability and reserved the issue of damages for
further proceedings. (Doc. 36). In lieu of a bench trial, the
parties stipulated to relevant facts (Doc. 50) and submitted
briefs articulating their respective positions regarding
proper damages. (See Docs. 52, 53). We set forth our
findings of fact and conclusions of law herein pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a).
Findings of Fact and Procedural
Frank Kelly and Todd C. Ray are trustees of the Local
520's Health and Welfare Fund, Pension Fund, and Annuity
Fund (collectively, "the Funds"). (Doc. 35 at 2).
Each Fund is structured as a multiemployer employee benefit
plan within the meaning of Sections 3(3) and 3(37) of ERISA.
(Id.); see also 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3),
(37). The parties agree that Gas Field is an
"employer" and Local 520 is an "employee
organization" within the meaning of the statute.
(See Doc. 35 at 2); see also 29 U.S.C.
520 is party to a collective bargaining agreement, identified
by the parties and herein as the "2012-2015 Agreement,
" with the Mechanical Contractors Association of Central
Pennsylvania ("MCA"). (Doc. 35 at 2). Local 520 is
also party to collective bargaining agreements with employers
that are not MCA members, such as Gas Field. (Id.)
Gas Field became a party to the 2012-2015 Agreement by virtue
of a document titled "RECOGNITION / JOINDER, "
referred to by the parties as the "2012-2015
Recognition, " which provides that Gas Field
"adopts and agrees to be bound by the terms and
conditions of the [2012-2015 Agreement]." (Id.
Funds, through the trustees, commenced this action on January
2, 2014. (Doc. 1). Therein, the trustees sought an audit of
Gas Field's relevant employment and payroll records, as
well as any applicable damages authorized by the 2012-2015
Agreement and ERISA. (See id.) Following a period of
discovery, the parties filed cross-motions (Docs. 21, 27) for
summary judgment limited to the issue of liability. The
parties vigorously disputed whether the 2012-2015 Agreement
obligated Gas Field to contribute to the Funds on behalf of
all Gas Field employees, regardless of union or job
status, or only on behalf of Local 520 employees assigned to
designated Gas Field projects. (See Doc. 35 at 8-9).
We resolved that the plain language of the 2012-2015
Agreement-stating that same "shall apply to and cover
all employees of an Employer"-refuted Gas
Field's proposed limitation. (Id. at 10-11).
Hence, we granted the Funds' motion, denied Gas
Field's motion, and deferred entry of judgment pending a
determination of damages. (See Docs. 35, 36).
Funds hired auditors to review Gas Field's payroll
records and identify employees covered by the 2012-2015
Agreement as interpreted by the court. (See Doc. 50
¶ 2). The auditors thereafter identified all employees
covered by the 2012-2015 Agreement for whom no contributions
were made (the "covered employees"). (See
id. ¶ 3). The parties agree that, based on the
court's summary judgment ruling and the auditors'
findings, Gas Field's delinquencies for the covered
employees are as follows:
• Pension Fund: $646, 021.14 in contributions, $96,
903.17 in liquidated damages, and $184, 608.17 in interest;
• Annuity Fund: $248, 055.66 in contributions, $37,
208.35 in liquidated damages, and $70, 993.25 in interest;
• Health and Welfare Fund: $648, 467.35 in
contributions, $97, 270.10 in liquidated damages, and $185,
893.68 in interest.
(Id. ¶¶ 4-6).
covered employees on whose behalf Gas Field did not make
requisite Fund contributions, Gas Field provided certain
alternative benefits. (See id. ¶¶ 8-9).
Gas Field provided health insurance at a cost of $146,
166.23, and contributed to a 401(k) retirement plan in the
amount of $25, 566.31. (Id.) II. Conclusions of
Law Gas Field does not dispute the accuracy of the
auditors' calculations. (See id. ¶¶
6-8). Gas Field instead asserts that its provision of
alternative benefits to the covered employees either (1)
immunizes it from an ERISA damages award, at least with
respect to the Health and Welfare Fund, or (2) entitles it to
an offset or credit for the amount of alternative benefits
provided. (Id. ¶¶ 7-9; Doc. 52 at 2-4).
Neither argument has merit.
515 of ERISA provides that:
[e]very employer who is obligated to make contributions to a
multiemployer 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