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Greater St. Louis Construction Laborers Welfare Fund v. Fitzgerald Construction, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

June 16, 2017

GREATER ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION LABORERS WELFARE FUND, Plaintiffs,
v.
FITZGERALD CONSTRUCTION, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Local Union Nos. 42 and 110 of the Laborers International Union of North America, AFL-CIO (the “Union”) and various of its trust funds and their trustees bring this action under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1145, and the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 189, claiming that defendant Fitzgerald Construction, Inc., failed to make contributions to the various funds as it was obligated to do under its Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) with the Union.

         After being served with process, Fitzgerald failed to timely answer or otherwise respond to plaintiffs' complaint, and the clerk of court entered default against it. At plaintiffs' request, I ordered Fitzgerald to submit to a financial compliance examination, and plaintiffs' auditor has since provided an examination report to plaintiffs. Plaintiffs now ask me to enter default judgment against Fitzgerald and have submitted affidavits and other evidence - including the examination report - in support of their request. Plaintiffs have also submitted a proposed judgment. Because the evidence is insufficient to award the requested interest, I will deny the motion for default judgment. I will, however, provide plaintiffs an opportunity to cure this deficiency.

         After default has been entered against a defendant, it is deemed to have admitted all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint. See Taylor v. City of Ballwin, 859 F.2d 1330, 1333 (8th Cir. 1988). While factual allegations in the complaint are generally taken as true, those allegations relating to the amount of damages must be proven to a reasonable degree of certainty. Everyday Learning Corp. v. Larson, 242 F.3d 815, 818 (8th Cir. 2001); Stephenson v. El-Batrawi, 524 F.3d 907, 916-17 (8th Cir. 2008). Evidence and supporting documents must provide a basis for the amount of damages sought by plaintiffs and awarded by the Court. Stephenson, 524 F.3d at 917.

         When entering judgment in favor of a benefits plan under 29 U.S.C. § 1132, I must award the plan:

(A) the unpaid contributions,
(B) interest on the unpaid contributions,
(C) an amount equal to the greater of--
(i) interest on the unpaid contributions, or
(ii) liquidated damages provided for under the plan in an amount not in excess of 20 percent (or such higher percentage as may be permitted under Federal or State law) of the amount determined by the court under subparagraph (A),
(D) reasonable attorney's fees and costs of the action, to be paid by the defendant, and
(E) such other legal or equitable relief as the court deems appropriate.

29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2). “[I]interest on unpaid contributions shall be determined by using the rate provided under the plan, or, if none, the rate prescribed under section 6621 of Title 26.” Id.

         In its motion and proposed judgment, plaintiffs seek to recover from Fitzgerald $4635.09 in unpaid contributions from April 2013 through December 2015; $546.74 in interest; $1197.91 in liquidated damages; $1641.50 in attorneys' fees; $232.03 in costs; and $735 in ...


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