United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
ST. LOUIS-KANSAS CITY CARPENTERS REGIONAL COUNCIL, et al., Plaintiffs,
EARL BANZE CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on plaintiffs' motion for
default judgment, [Doc. #9], pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
bring this action to collect delinquent fringe benefit
contributions pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Management
Relations Act of 1974 (LMRA), as amended, 29 U.S.C. §
185, and pursuant to Section 502 of the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as amended, 29 U.S.C.
§ 1132. Plaintiffs are the St. Louis-Kansas City
Carpenters Regional Council, four employee benefit plans (the
Pension, Health and Welfare, Vacation, and Training Funds)
and their trustees (collectively, the plans). Defendant Earl
Banze Construction Co., Inc. is an employer in an industry
affecting commerce within the meaning of the LMRA and ERISA.
employs individuals who are members of the St. Louis-Kansas
City Carpenters Regional Council (the Union). Plaintiffs
allege that defendant failed to make all its required
contributions to the funds and forward to the Union all the
deducted dues, as required under the terms of the collective
bargaining agreements between defendant and the Union. [Doc.
#1 at 4].
filed the instant case on July 21, 2016. Service was achieved
on defendant on July 26, 2016. Under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(a)(1)(A)(i), defendant was required to file an
answer or other responsive pleading within twenty-one days of
being served with the complaint. Because defendant failed to
do so, the Court ordered that the plaintiff file motions for
entry of default on August 25, 2016. [Doc. #4]. The
plaintiffs failed to comply with that deadline and the Court
dismissed the action on October 20, 2016. Plaintiffs later
informed the Court that they filed for default under the
wrong case number, and the Court vacated its dismissal order.
[Doc. #7]. The plaintiffs then filed a motion for default
judgment on November 1, 2016. [Doc. #9]. Defendant did not
to Rule 55, default judgment is appropriate when “a
party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is
sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that
failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise . . . .”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Granting default judgment is within a
district court's discretion. See Weitz Co, LLC v.
MacKenzie House, LLC, 665 F.3d 970, 977 (8th Cir. 2012).
party defaults, “the factual allegations of a complaint
(except those relating to the amount of damages) are taken as
true, but ‘it remains for the court to consider whether
the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of
action, since a party in default does not admit mere
conclusions of law.'” Murray v. Lene, 595
F.3d 868, 871 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting 10A Charles Alan
Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure:
Civil § 2688, at 63 (3d ed. 1998)). “The
court may conduct hearings or make referrals . . . when, to
enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to: (A) conduct an
accounting; (B) determine the amount of damages; (C)
establish the truth of any allegation by evidence; or (D)
investigate any other matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).
However, where “the findings and judgment regarding
damages in the instant case are capable of being computed on
the basis of facts of record . . . the district court need
not hold an evidentiary hearing on the issue of
damages.” Taylor v. City of Ballwin, Mo., 859
F.2d 1330, 1333 (8th Cir. 1988) (internal quotation and
provides that employers shall make contributions when
required by the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.
29 U.S.C. § 1145. Employers who fail to make the
required contributions may be liable for the unpaid
contributions, interest, liquidated damages (or the value of
the interest again, where that amount is greater than the
liquidated damages, or where liquidated damages have not been
provided for), attorneys' fees, and costs. Id.
3, 2013, defendant agreed to be bound by the terms of the
Missouri/Illinois Independent Building Contractors agreement
with the Union (the Agreement), as well as the
Missouri/Illinois Independent Area Addendum [Doc. #10 at 1;
Doc. #9-2 at 1; Doc. #9-3; Doc. #9-5]. The Agreement requires
defendant to contribute to the funds at the appropriate rate
for each hour worked by each covered employee. [Doc. #9-3 at
Art. VIII § 8.01(a)]. It also provides that the employee
must withhold from wages employee contributions at the
appropriate hourly rate and submit the same to the relevant
vacation fund. Id. at Art. VIII § 8.01(b). The
Agreement's addendum mandates that defendant must furnish
remittance reports to ensure that contributions can be
credited to employees' accounts. [Doc. #9-5 at 11]. The
Agreement also incorporates by reference the plans' trust
documents, which provide that failure to make timely
contributions subjects defendant to liability for collection
of delinquent fringe benefit contributions, liquidated
damages, interest, court costs, and attorneys' fees.
[Doc. #9-3 at Art. XIII § 9.01]. Plaintiffs are further
authorized to audit defendant's payroll and related
records, and invoke written collection policies, including
advance cash deposits. Id.
submit the affidavit of Juli Laramie, the accountant and
controller for the funds. [Doc. #9-2 at 1]. Laramie asserts
that defendant has failed to purchase required fringe benefit
stamps, which allow for contributions to the benefit funds.
[Doc. #9-2 at 1-2]. She also avers that for the period
between April 20, 2016, and October 12, 2016, and after
applying credits,  defendant owes $64, 937.50 in unpaid
fringe benefit contributions, $697.41 in interest, and $4,
224.09 in liquidated damages. [Doc. #9-2 at 3]. In total, she
claims, defendant owes $69, 859.00. Id. Plaintiffs
submit an exhibit showing the results of a payroll audit for
the period of April 20, ...