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AFL-CIO v. Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis

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

August 13, 2019

LOCAL 513 INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS, AFL-CIO, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CONCRETE CORING COMPANY OF ST. LOUIS a/k/a CONCRETE CORING COMPANY OF NORTH AMERICA, INC., HOWARD H. HALL, III, and TINA NEWELL, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NOELLE C. COLLINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 21). The Motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) (Doc. 9). For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion will be GRANTED, in part and DENIED, in part and this action will be DISMISSED, with prejudice.

         I. Background

         On July 3, 2018, Plaintiffs filed this action pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1132, and the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185, seeking to collect fringe benefit contributions owed to the Local 513 Operating Engineers Benefit Funds (the “Local 513 Funds”)[1] and union dues owed to the Local 513, International Union of Operating Engineers (the “Union”) pursuant to the terms of a Collective Bargaining Agreement. The undisputed facts are as follows.

         On April 26, 2016, Defendant Howard H. Hall, III (“Hall”) registered the name Concrete Coring Company of North America as a fictitious name with the Missouri Secretary of State (Plaintiffs' Statement of Unconverted Material Facts (“PSOF”), Doc. 23 at ¶1). On August 3, 2017, Concrete Coring of St. Louis, Inc. filed an amendment to its Articles of Incorporation with the Missouri Secretary of State changing its name to Concrete Coring of North America, Inc. (PSOF ¶2). Hall is President and the sole member of the Board of Directors for Concrete Coring Company of North America, Inc. (PSOF ¶3). Defendant Tina Newell (“Newell”)[2] is Secretary of Concrete Coring Company of North America, Inc. (PSOF ¶4).

         Defendant Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis Inc. a/k/a Concrete Coring of North America, Inc. (hereinafter the “Corporate Defendant”) is a party to a valid and binding Collective Bargaining Agreement (the “CBA”) with the Union (PSOF ¶10). At all times relevant to this complaint, the Corporate Defendant was and has also been signatory to a Participation Agreement with the Local 513 Funds (PSOF ¶11). The CBA requires the Corporate Defendant to submit monthly reports and remit contributions to the Local 513 Funds (PSOF ¶12) The CBA also requires payment of 20% liquidated damages on delinquent contributions, as well as interest, attorneys' fees, court costs and payroll examination fees if suit is filed to enforce the CBA (PSOF ¶15).

         On October 25, 2013, Plaintiffs filed an action against Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis Inc. for the collection of delinquent fringe benefit contributions under the CBA. See Local 513 International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO et al. v. Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis, Inc., No. 4:13-CV-02128-JCH. On December 20, 2013, Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis Inc. and Hall entered into a “Promissory Note and Settlement Agreement” in which Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis Inc. and Hall agreed that they were jointly and severally liable for a total known delinquency of $83, 170.59 to Plaintiffs (PSOF ¶9). On July 22, 2014, a Consent Judgment was signed and entered by the Honorable Jean C. Hamilton in the matter in light of Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis Inc. and Hall's default under “Promissory Note and Settlement Agreement” (PSOF ¶16). The Consent Judgment was subsequently amended by Court Order on September 5, 2014 to include additional delinquent contributions for a total Judgment against Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis Inc. and Hall of $103, 229.84 (Id.).

         Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis Inc. filed for voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 12, 2014, which resulted in a final decree dated October 6, 2015. (PSOF ¶18; DSOF ¶3). In re: Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis, Inc., No. 14-47256 (E.D. Mo. Bnkr. Oct. 6, 2015). As a part of the bankruptcy plan, Concrete Coring Company of St. Louis Inc. agreed to make monthly payments to Plaintiffs for 6 years to satisfy the judgment entered against it and Hall in No. 4:13-CV-02128-JCH (DSOF ¶12). Although the parties dispute the amount outstanding, they agree that the Judgment is unsatisfied (Compare Doc. 22 at 9 ($54, 421.16) and Doc. 27 at 4 ($48, 878.69)). Plaintiffs have instituted a number of collection efforts against Hall, including garnishment proceedings in No. 4:13-CV-02128-JCH (Defendants' Statement of Facts for Which a Genuine Issue Exists (“DSOF”), Doc. 26 at ¶¶2, 13). Defendants indicate that the Corporate Defendant continues to make its monthly payments to Plaintiffs (DSOF ¶14).

         On September 12, 2017, Concrete Coring of North America, Inc. was administratively dissolved by the Missouri Secretary of State (PSOF ¶5). The Missouri Secretary of State reinstated Concrete Coring of North America, Inc. on August 9, 2018 (PSOF ¶6). Hall and Newell continued to operate the business during its administrative dissolution (PSOF ¶¶ 7-8).

         To date, the Corporate Defendant has voluntarily submitted contribution report forms evidencing hours of bargaining unit work without submitting contributions to the Funds or remitting deducted dues to the Union. At the applicable contribution and dues deduction rate, the hours of bargaining unit submitted work equate to $46, 384.33 in principal accrued but unpaid deductions and contributions for the work done September 2018 through December 2018 (PSOF ¶17).

         On April 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 21). In their Motion, Plaintiffs request $46, 384.33 in principal accrued deductions and contributions for the work reports from September through December 2018. Plaintiffs also seek liquidated damages ($51, 444.33), interest ($9, 276.87), attorneys' fees ($10, 263.88), and costs ($464.36). Plaintiffs also seek the remaining balance from the Judgement in No. 4:13-CV-02128-JCH from Hall and the Corporate Defendant. Finally, Plaintiffs appear to assert that Hall and Newell are personally liable for “obligations the corporation incurred” from September 13, 2017 to August 9, 2018, while the Corporate Defendant was administratively dissolved. However, Plaintiffs indicate in their conclusion that they seek the deductions, contributions, liquidated damages, interest, and attorneys' fees from the Corporate Defendant only and the remaining balance of the prior judgment from Hall only. Newell is not mentioned (See Doc. 22 at 11).

         Defendants concede that the Corporate Defendant owes Plaintiffs unpaid deductions and contributions in the amount of $46, 384.33 through December 2018 (Doc. 27 at 1). Defendants further concede that the Corporate Defendant owes Plaintiffs liquidated damages and interest totaling $60, 721.20 (Id. at 2). Defendants, however, assert that a genuine issue of dispute exists regarding whether Hall and Newell are liable for the Corporate Defendant's debts (Id.). Further, in light of their objection the personal liability of the individual Defendants, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' request for attorneys' fees is unreasonable and suggest the fees be reduced (Id.).

         In their reply, Plaintiffs acknowledge that the term of administrative dissolution does not impact the liability of the individual Defendants and that Newell is absolved from the debt but Plaintiffs continue to assert that Hall is jointly responsible for the debt as he registered Concrete Coring of North America as his fictitious name (Doc. 28 at 4). Therefore, as a preliminary matter, in light of Plaintiffs' concession that Newell is not liable for any of balances at issue in the current litigation, the Court will dismiss Newell from this action. The Court now turns to the remaining issues.

         II. Summary ...


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