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Construction Laborers Trust Funds for Southern California Administrative Company, LLC v. Pouk & Steinle

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


March 23, 2009

CONSTRUCTION LABORERS TRUST FUNDS FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ADMINISTRATIVE COMPANY, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
POUK & STEINLE, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Manuel L. Real United States District Court Judge

AWARD OF ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS

[29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2)(D); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 54(d)(2); Local Rule 54-12]

On March 6, 2009, this Court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff ("ADMINCO") pursuant to a stipulation between the parties ("Judgment"). In the Judgment, the Court expressly adopted its previous rulings in this case as its final rulings and judgment, including its finding (in granting partial summary adjudication to ADMINCO) that ADMINCO is entitled to an award of attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") section 502(g)(2), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2), and the collective bargaining agreement and trust agreements referenced in the Judgment (collectively "Agreements"). The parties have now filed a stipulation for entry of an award of attorneys' fees and costs. In accordance with the Judgment entered on March 6, 2009, the Court's other rulings in this action (expressly adopted in and by the Judgment), and the parties stipulation for entry of an award of attorneys' fees and costs, THE COURT FINDS THAT:

1. Prevailing Party: ADMINCO brought this action pursuant to section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), and sections 502(g)(2) and 515 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(g)(2) and 1145, to:

(a) compel POUK & STEINLE to produce its payroll and other records for an audit to determine hours of work by its employees; and (b) obtain judgment for fringe benefit contributions and related damages thereby alleged to be due based on those records. ADMINCO has obtained such relief. Thus ADMINCO is the prevailing party in this action.

2. Attorneys' Fees Pursuant to ERISA: An award of attorneys' fees and costs to ADMINCO is authorized under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2)(D), and granted to Plaintiff pursuant to the Judgment.

3. Reasonable Attorneys' Fees: The determination of the amount of attorneys' fees in an ERISA case, as under all statutes where an award of attorney fees is authorized to the prevailing party, follows the "lodestar/multiplier" approach. See Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 n. 7, 103 S.Ct. 1933, 76 L.Ed.2d 40 (1983) (standards for fee awards "are generally applicable in all cases in which Congress has authorized an award of fees to a 'prevailing party'"); D'Emmanuele v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., 904 F.2d 1379, 1382-83 (9th Cir. 1990) (lodestar/multiplier approach applies to attorney fees under ERISA), overruled on other grounds by Burlington v. Dague, 505 U.S. 557, 112 S.Ct. 2638, 120 L.Ed.2d 449 (1992). This approach requires, first, a determination of a "lodestar" amount of a reasonable rate multiplied by reasonable hours, and then a determination whether to increase or decrease the lodestar amount by a multiplier. See D'Emmanuele, 904 F.2d at 1383.

Based on the parties' stipulation for entry of an award of attorneys' fees and costs, including the explanation of the rates and hours set forth therein, the Court finds the hours of work and rates -- and corresponding lodestar amount of $116,206 in attorneys' fees -- to be reasonable. ADMINCO does not claim a multiplier and the Court finds there to be no reason to depart from the lodestar amount in this case.

4. Costs: The parties have stipulated that Plaintiff incurred $3,107.22 in costs in prosecution of this case, which are documented in an attachment to their stipulation.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT plaintiff Construction Laborers Trust Funds for Southern California Administrative Company, LLC is entitled to an award of, and is hereby awarded, attorneys' fees in the amount of $116,206 and costs of $3,107.22. This award shall be considered nunc pro tunc part of the judgment entered in this action on March 6, 2009; it shall not be considered a separate judgment.

SO ORDERED:

20090323

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