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Trustees of The Michiana Area Electrical Workers Health & Welfare Fund v. TGB Unlimited Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

April 22, 2015

TRUSTEES OF THE MICHIANA AREA ELECTRICAL WORKERS HEALTH & WELFARE FUND, TRUSTEES OF THE MICHIANA AREA ELECTRICAL WORKERS PENSION FUND, and TRUSTEES OF THE MICHIANA AREA ELECTRICAL WORKERS MONEY PURCHASE PLAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
TGB UNLIMITED INC. d/b/a S & T BANCROFT ELECTRIC, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN E. MARTIN, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 18], filed by Plaintiffs September 25, 2014. On November 6, 2014, Defendant filed a response and on December 4, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a reply. On January 22, 2015, Defendant filed a sur-reply.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On June 7, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") to compel Defendant to cooperate with a payroll audit and to obtain any unpaid fund contributions revealed by the audit. On July 22, 2014, at a telephonic status conference, the parties informed the Court an audit had been performed but the matter of attorney fees had not been resolved. On September 25, 2014, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment seeking attorney fees related to obtaining Defendant's cooperation with the audit.

The parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

SUMMARY JUDGEMENT STANDARD

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that motions for summary judgment be granted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Rule 56 further requires the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery, against a party "who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). "[S]ummary judgment is appropriate - in fact, is mandated - where there are no disputed issues of material fact and the movant must prevail as a matter of law. In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party." Dempsey v. Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotations omitted).

Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the non-moving party cannot resist the motion and withstand summary judgment by merely resting on its pleadings. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Donovan v. City of Milwaukee, 17 F.3d 944, 947 (7th Cir. 1994). Rule 56(e) provides that "[i]f a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may... consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion [or] grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials - including the facts considered undisputed - show that the movant is entitled to it...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2), (3); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50 (1986). Thus, to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact, the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, " but must "come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. '" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (emphasis original).

In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all legitimate inferences in favor of that party. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Srail v. Vill. of Lisle, 588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th Cir. 2009); NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir. 1995). A court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence, to judge the credibility of witnesses, or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

FACTS

Defendant TGB Unlimited, Inc., d/b/a S & T Bancroft Electric is an Indiana corporation party to a Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") with IBEW Local 153 and to an Assent of Participation Agreement, which is itself part of the Revised Agreement and Declaration of Trust establishing the Michiana Area Electrical Workers Pension Fund. Plaintiffs are Trustees of the pension fund and related funds to which Defendant is required to make contributions.

In March 2013, the Plaintiffs sent a request to Defendant for an audit of Defendant's payroll records, pursuant to the CBA and ERISA. After back and forth between the parties, Plaintiffs filed suit June 7, 2013. The payroll audit was conducted on January 14, 2014. After the auditor sent his report to Defendant, Defendant provided documentation indicating it had made some of the dispute payments. The correction resulted in a revised report on July 9, 2014, showing that Defendant owed $118.54, including interest. Defendant paid the full amount, leaving only the issue of attorney fees and costs claimed by Plaintiffs in the amount of $5, 702.47.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiffs brought this action under 29 U.S.C. § 1132, which governs civil enforcement of ERISA, and Plaintiffs now request attorney fees. Section 1132(g) ...


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