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Iron Workers St. Louis District Council Pension Trust v. Edwards Steel, Inc.

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

December 31, 2019

IRON WORKERS ST. LOUIS DISTRICT COUNCIL PENSION TRUST, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
EDWARDS STEEL, INC., et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs filed this action on August 20, 2019, under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1132, to collect delinquent fringe benefit contributions for the period of August 1, 2016, through December 31, 2018 (Count I); and for breach of a settlement agreement relating to contributions owed for the period of January through April of 2019 (Count II).

         The settlement agreement provided for repayment of unpaid contributions and wage assessments owed for the period of January through April of 2019, liquidated damages, interest, and attorneys' fees, totaling the amount of $286, 138.98. The settlement agreement was signed by Plaintiffs and Defendant Christopher Edwards (“Edwards”), on behalf of himself and his company, Defendant Edwards Steel, Inc. (“ESI”). Paragraph 6 of the agreement provided: “Edwards agrees to be personally liable for all of the obligations of ESI called for in this Agreement, including, but not limited to, all ongoing contributions, liquidated damages, interest, attorney's fees, and audit fees that shall become due and owing during the duration of this Agreement.” ECF No. 12-7 at 3.

         The settlement agreement called for an initial payment of $31, 000.00 followed by 24 monthly installments of $11, 481.15, with an interest rate of 7.50% per annum, compounded monthly. The settlement agreement provided that in the event of a default on any obligation under the terms of the agreement, all remaining payments would be accelerated and become immediately payable, and Defendants would be liable for additional liquidated damages of 10% of all unpaid amounts and all reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred to collect such amounts. Id. at 2-3.

         According to the complaint, Defendants timely paid the initial $31, 000.00 and paid the first installment of $11, 481.15 after the due date. Defendants also submitted payment of the second installment of $11, 481.15 after the due date; however, the check was returned for not sufficient funds. Plaintiffs assert that the current balance of contributions and wage assessments due under the settlement agreement is $264, 066.45.

         Plaintiffs filed suit on August 20, 2019. In October 2019, Plaintiffs received payment of $50, 000.00 from an Irrevocable Letter of Credit provided on behalf of ESI in favor of Plaintiffs. Pursuant to Plaintiffs' Policy on Delinquent Employer Contributions (ECF No. 12-9), Plaintiffs applied the money from the Irrevocable Letter of to the oldest period of unpaid contributions.

         On October 8, 2019, a Clerk's Entry of Default was entered as to both Defendants. Plaintiffs first moved for default judgment on October 18, 2019. ECF No. 10. However, the Court denied Plaintiffs' motion on November 19, 2019 because Plaintiffs failed to properly support their allegations of damages. See ECF No. 11; see also Stephenson v. El-Batrawi, 524 F.3d 907, 916-17 (8th Cir. 2008) (holding that a district court must provide detailed findings regarding damage calculations, even in default judgments, and “generic reference to evidentiary support for the damages determination” may be insufficient).

         The matter is now before the Court on Plaintiffs' amended motion for default judgment (ECF No. 12). Because the affidavits and other evidence submitted with Plaintiffs' amended motion support Plaintiffs' requested judgment, the Court will grant Plaintiffs' motion and enter default judgment against Defendants. However, the Court will reduce the award of attorneys' fees to a reasonable amount.

         In their motion for default judgment, as amended, Plaintiffs seek judgment against ESI in the amount of $29, 891.69, which is itemized as follows:

1. $8, 002.12 in contributions owed to the Plaintiffs for the period of August 1, 2016, through December 31, 2018, as revealed by the payroll compliance audit on behalf of employees performing work within the jurisdiction of Local 46;
2. $800.21 in liquidated damages resulting from the failure to timely submit contributions as revealed by the payroll compliance audit on behalf of employees performing work within the jurisdiction of Local 46;
3. $822.77 in interest resulting from the failure to timely submit contributions as revealed by the payroll compliance audit on behalf of employees performing work within the jurisdiction of Local 46;
4. $50, 263.57 in contributions owed to the Plaintiffs for the period of August 1, 2016, through December 31, 2018, as revealed by the payroll compliance audit on behalf of employees performing work within the jurisdiction of Local 392;
5. $4, 992.35 in liquidated damages resulting from the failure to timely submit contributions as revealed by the payroll compliance audit on behalf of employees performing ...

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