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Employers and Cement Masons #90 Health and Welfare Fund v. Albright Concrete

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

December 11, 2017

EMPLOYERS AND CEMENT MASONS #90 HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ALBRIGHT CONCRETE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Cement Masons Local #90 (“Union”) and various of its trust funds bring this action under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1145, claiming that defendants Albright Concrete and Josh Albright, doing business as Albright Concrete, failed to make contributions to the various funds as it was obligated to do under its Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) with the Union.

         After being served with process, defendants failed to timely answer or otherwise respond to plaintiffs' complaint, and the clerk of court entered default against them. At the plaintiffs' request, I ordered defendants to submit outstanding fringe benefit remittance reports. Defendants initially failed to respond, necessitating multiple hearings and a finding of contempt. Defendants eventually provided to plaintiffs the names of hired employees and their hours worked in September 2016. Plaintiffs now move for entry of default judgment. Because the affidavits and other evidence submitted support plaintiffs' requested judgment, I will grant their motion and enter default judgment against the defendants. However, I will reduce the award of attorneys' fees to a reasonable amount.

         After default has been entered against a defendant, he is deemed to have admitted all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint. See Taylor v. City of Ballwin, Mo., 859 F.2d 1330, 1333 n. 7 (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 shall 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).

         Here, plaintiffs request judgment against defendants in the amount of $4736.50 in delinquent fringe benefit contributions and $947.30 in liquidated damages. Plaintiffs previously filed a copy of the CBA between the parties which was signed by defendant Albright on behalf of Albright Concrete. ECF No. 10-1. Plaintiffs now submit as evidence an email from defendant Albright listing the four employees he hired in September 2016 and the number of hours of regular and overtime that they worked for him. Albright's information is supported by affidavits from two of the four employees, attesting to the number of hours worked. Plaintiffs also submitted the Union reporting form which establishes the required contribution rates due to the funds for each hour of straight-time and overtime pay. Plaintiffs' provided a chart summarizing the amounts owed and the rates by which the delinquent contributions were calculated. Plaintiffs also seek twenty percent (20%) of the delinquent contribution amount as liquidated damages, as allowed under ...


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