United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
STEPHEN KNOWLES Trustee of the Bricklayers of Indiana Retirement Fund, BRICKLAYERS AND TROWEL TRADES INTERNATIONAL PENSION FUND, BRICKLAYERS AND ALLIED CRAFTWORKERS INTERNATIONAL HEALTH FUND other AS SUCCESSOR TO BRICKLAYERS OF INDIANA HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, INDIANA BRICKLAYERS LOCAL 4 JOINT APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING COMMITTEE, LOUISVILLE PENSION FUND, BRICKLAYERS LOCAL 4 IN/KY, INDIANAPOLIS PENSION FUND, Plaintiffs,
DODDS MASONRY CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC., DK & L MASONRY, LLC, D AND K MASONRY, LLC, Defendants.
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF No.
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
Stephen Knowles (“the Trustee”), in his capacity
as the trustee of certain pension funds (“the
Funds”) of the International Union of Bricklayers and
Allied Craftworkers Local No. 4 of Indiana and Kentucky and
its affiliated locals (“the Union”), sued
Defendants Dodds Masonry Construction Company, Inc.
(“DMCC”), DK&L Masonry, LLC
(“DK&L”), and D and K Masonry, LLC
(“D&K”), under the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), see 29 U.S.C. §
1132, for Defendants' failure to contribute to the Funds
according to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement
(CBA) with the Union.
before the Court is a motion to dismiss for failure to state
a claim, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), filed only by
DK&L. (The Trustee has represented to the Court that he
has agreed to dismiss the remaining Defendants.) For the
reasons given below, the motion is denied.
complaint, together with the instrument attached to it,
see Fed. R. Civ. P 10(c), alleges as follows. DMCC
is an Indiana corporation engaged in the masonry and
construction business, Am. Compl. ¶ 4(a), ECF No. 13,
which employs or has employed members of the Union, a
regional bricklayers union. Id. ¶ 5. As a
result of prior collective bargaining agreements, the Union
has established the Funds, a collection of pension funds
benefitting Union members. Id. ¶ 3(b).
Beginning on July 30, 1998, DMCC “entered into
successive collective bargaining agreements with the
Union” which required DMCC to contribute to the Funds
for the benefit of “certain of its employees[, ]”
presumably Union members. Id. ¶ 5.
Trustee has attached to the complaint a “Memorandum of
Agreement” (“the Memorandum”) dated July
30, 1998. Am. Compl. Ex. A, ECF No. 13-1. The Memorandum was
executed between DMCC as “Employer” and the
Union. Id. at 2. “In consideration of the
mutual promises of each other [sic], ” both
parties adopted the latest version of an agreement
“between the Union and the Indiana Mason Contractors
Statewide Association, Inc., ” and “agree[d] to
be bound by all of the terms and conditions thereof for the
duration of such Agreement.” Id. Further,
“[t]he parties agree[d] to be bound by the terms and
conditions of any Trust Fund Agreements” contained in
the agreement referred to. Id. The Memorandum was
signed by James Dodds on behalf of DMCC, and by a
representative for the Union. Id.
2008, the Trustee sued DMCC to recover unpaid pension
benefits, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8, 13, and obtained a
judgment “in excess of $26, 000” against DMCC.
Id. ¶ 8. Subsequently, DMCC went out of
business. Id. After DMCC went out of business, James
Dodds set up two new companies, Dodds of Indiana
(“Dodds IN”) and Dodds of Kentucky (“Dodds
KY”). Id. ¶ 9. In 2011, the Trustee again
filed suit, this time against Dodds KY, id. ¶
10, presumably again seeking to recover pension benefits that
remained unpaid. Dodds KY then declared bankruptcy.
Id. ¶ 11. At some point following the suit
against DMCC, James Dodds created DK&L. See Id.
present action, the Trustee has once again sued to recover
benefits that remain unpaid from DMCC, D&K, and DK&L.
Id. ¶ 13. The three companies share several
common aspects. For one, James Dodds plays a prominent role
in all three. Not only does DMCC bear his name, id.
¶ 4(a), but he either controls or once controlled the
labor relations policy of all three. Id. ¶
7(a). The companies also share common management,
id. ¶ 7(c), and common ownership. Id.
¶ 7(d). Finally, D&K and DK&L “share
common employees, equipment, materials, and jobs” which
had been or are currently used by DMCC. Id. at
before the Court is Defendant DK&L's motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF No. 15.
“A pleading that states a claim to relief must contain
. . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a). In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss
for failure to state a claim, the complaint must
“contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” West Bend Mut. Ins. Co. v.
Schumacher, 844 F.3d 670, 675 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009)).
“‘A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.'” Id. (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
considering the plausibility of the complaint, all
well-pleaded facts are taken as true, though legal
conclusions are not. McCauley v. City of Chicago,
671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 681). The complaint is “construe[d] . . . in
the light most favorable to [the plaintiff], ” and
“all reasonable inferences” are drawn in his
favor. Burke v. 401 N. Wabash Venture, LLC, 714 F.3d
501, 504 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678). The facts are considered on the basis of whether they
plausibly state a claim to relief that rises beyond a merely
speculative level. McCauley, 671 F.3d at
616. (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
constitutes a plausible claim depends on context, requiring
the Court to apply its experience and common sense.
McCauley, 671 F.3d at 616 (citing Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679). At a minimum, however, plaintiffs are
required to support their complaint with “‘some
specific facts.'” Id. (quoting Brooks
v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009)). How much
specificity is required may vary from case to case, but
“‘the plaintiff must give enough details about