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Tsareff v. Manweb Servs., Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 27, 2015

JAMES TSAREFF, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
MANWEB SERVICES, INC., Defendant-Appellee

Argued September 19, 2014.

As Corrected July 29, 2015.

Page 842

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 1:10-cv-00980-SEB-DKL -- Sarah Evans Barker, Judge.

For James Tsareff, Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Benefit Fund, Plaintiffs - Appellants: Rachel Renee Parisi, Attorney, Ledbetter Parisi Sollars, LLC, Miamisburg, OH.

For Manweb Services, formerly doing business as: ENTERPRISE ELECTRIC AND MECHANICAL AND doing business as FREIJE ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS, Defendant - Appellee: James Harold Hanson, Attorney, James T. Spolyar, Attorney, Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, P.C., Indianapolis, IN.

Before BAUER, ROVNER, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 843

Bauer, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-appellant, Indiana Electrical Pension Benefit Plan (" Plan" ), through its trustee, James Tsareff, brings this action to collect withdrawal liability from defendant-appellee, ManWeb Services, Inc. (" ManWeb" ), under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (" ERISA" ), as amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 (" MPPAA" ), 29 U.S.C. § § 1001-1461. The Plan argues that ManWeb is responsible for the withdrawal liability incurred by Tiernan & Hoover, certain assets of which ManWeb acquired through an asset sale, under a theory of successor liability. The Plan appeals the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law to ManWeb and denial of the Plan's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

I. BACKGROUND

ManWeb is an Indianapolis-based company that performs engineering, construction, and installation-related services. In August 2009, ManWeb entered into an asset purchase agreement (" APA" ) with Tiernan & Hoover, another Indianapolis-based electrical contractor that performed engineering, construction, and service for cold storage facilities under the trade name, " The Freije Company." Unlike ManWeb, a non-union employer, Tiernan & Hoover was party to a collective bargaining agreement (" CBA" ) with IBEW Local 481 Union (" Union" ), in accordance with which it made contributions to the Plan, a multiemployer pension fund. As a result of the asset purchase, Tiernan & Hoover

Page 844

ceased operations and no longer had an obligation to contribute to the Plan. Although ManWeb continued to do the same type of work in the jurisdiction of the CBA for which contributions were previously required of Tiernan & Hoover, ManWeb did not make any ...


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