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David Frye Trustee v. Barber Construction Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 29, 2017

DAVID FRYE TRUSTEE, INDIANA LABORERS WELFARE, PENSION, TRAINING AND DEFINED CONTRIBUTION TRUST FUNDS, Plaintiffs,
v.
BARBER CONSTRUCTION CO., Defendant.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Presently pending before the Court is an unopposed Motion for Default Judgment and for Permanent Injunction, [Filing No. 17], filed by Plaintiff David Frye, Trustee of the Indiana Laborers Welfare, Pension, Training and Defined Contribution Trust Funds (the “Trustee”). Pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), the Trustee asks this Court to: (1) enter default judgment in his favor and against Defendant Barber Construction Company (“Barber”) in the amount of $11, 021.32 in delinquent contributions, interest, and liquidated damages, [Filing No. 17 at 1]; (2) award him $2, 305.00 in attorneys' fees, [Filing No. 17 at 1]; (3) order Barber to obtain a bond in an amount stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement, [Filing No. 17 at 1]; and (4) permanently enjoin Barber “from failing[, ] neglecting, and refusing to make its required contributions” to the Trustee as they fall due, [Filing No. 1 at 4.] The Court will consider each request, in turn.

         I.

         Discussion

         A. Default Judgment

         Default is a “two-step process” that is “clearly outlined” in Rule 55(a) and 55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. VLM Food Trading Int'l, Inc. v. Illinois Trading Co., 811 F.3d 247, 255 (7th Cir. 2016). On June 8, 2017, after the time for answering the Trustee's Complaint had expired with no answer from Barber, the Court made an entry of default pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a). [Filing No. 8.] The Trustee now requests a default judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) in order to determine his rights against Barber. VLM Food Trading, 811 F.3d at 255 (stating that an entry of default “does not of itself determine rights” and that “[t]hat role is reserved for a default judgment”) (citation and emphasis omitted).

         Considering the Trustee's Motion for Default Judgment and supporting evidence, [Filing No. 17-1], the Court finds that a hearing is unnecessary and now GRANTS the Motion, [Filing No. 17]. The Court will enter default judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) in favor of the Trustee and against Barber in the amount of $11, 021.32 in delinquent contributions, interest, and liquidated damages.

         B. Attorneys' Fees

         In actions arising under ERISA to enforce delinquent contributions under a plan, a court shall award a fiduciary “reasonable attorney's fees and costs of the action, to be paid by the defendant.” 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2)(D). Pursuant to the supporting evidence provided by the Trustee, [Filing No. 17-2], the Court finds that the requested attorneys' fees are reasonable and, therefore, GRANTS the Motion as it relates to attorneys' fees and awards the Trustee $2, 305.00.

         C. Bond

         In his Complaint, the Trustee alleges that Barber entered into collective bargaining agreements with the Laborers' International Union of North America, Indiana State District Council that required Barber to obtain and maintain a bond in an amount stipulated therein. [Filing No. 1 at 2]. In his supporting affidavit, Timothy Patrick, the Collections Manager of the Indiana Laborers Welfare, Pension, Training and Defined Contribution Trust Funds, alleged that Barber has not, consistent with the terms of the collective bargaining agreements, provided a bond issued by a surety approved by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in the sum of $15, 000.00 in order to secure Barber's obligations to the Trustee. [Filing No. 17-1 at 2-3.]

         A collective bargaining agreement that lends itself to only one reasonable interpretation is considered to be unambiguous. Alexander v. City of Evansville, Indiana, 120 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted). Given the Trustee's Motion for Default Judgment and supporting evidence, [Filing No. 17-1], the Court GRANTS the Motion as it relates to the agreements' bond requirements and directs Barber to obtain and maintain a surety bond in accordance with the terms of the collective bargaining agreements.

         D. Permanent Injunction

         ERISA provides that a civil action may be brought “by a participant, beneficiary, or fiduciary to enjoin any act or practice which violates any provision of [ERISA] or the terms of the plan.” 29 U.S.C. § ...


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