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Cabinet Makers, Millmen and Industrial Carpenters Local 721 v. Commercial Wood Products Company

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


February 28, 2013

CABINET MAKERS, MILLMEN AND INDUSTRIAL CARPENTERS LOCAL 721, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMERCIAL WOOD PRODUCTS COMPANY, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: VIRGINIA A. Phillips United States District Judge

ORDER (1) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT AND (2) ORDERING DEFENDANTS TO PRODUCE RELEVANT PAYROLL RECORDS [Motion filed on January 24, 2013]

Before the Court is an Application for Default Judgment Against Commercial Wood Products Company and Request for an Order for Respondent to Produce Payroll Records filed by Cabinet Makers, Millmen and Industrial Carpenters Local 721 ("Cabinet Makers") (Doc. No. 12) ("Application"). The Court finds the Application appropriate for resolution without a hearing. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; Local R. 7-15. After consideration of the papers in support of the Application, the Court (1) GRANTS Default Judgment in favor of Cabinet Makers and (2) ORDERS Defendant to produce relevant payroll records from August 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013.

I. BACKGROUND

On October 6, 2010, Cabinet Makers and the Company entered into a labor agreement. (Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award Against Commercial Wood Products Company (Doc. No. 1) ("Petition") at ¶ 4.) The labor agreement had an arbitration clause which provided a four-step process for resolving disputes arising from the agreement, with the last step being arbitration. (Id. at ¶¶ 5-6.)

The labor agreement provided for a pre-scheduled wage increase every August 1, beginning August 1, 2011. (Id. at ¶ 7.) On or about August 22, 2011, Cabinet Makers filed a grievance against the company for not implementing the wage increases on August 1, 2011. (Id. at ¶ 8.) Unable to resolve their dispute with the Company, Cabinet Makers decided to pursue arbitration. (Id. at ¶ 9.) Cabinet Makers filed a petition to compel arbitration in a separate case before this Court. (See Cabinet Makers, Millmen and Industrial Carpenters Local 721 v. Commercial Wood Products Company, Case No. EDCV12-0024VAP(SPx) ("Arbitration Case"); see also Petition at ¶ 12.) On February 24, 2012, the Court entered an order compelling arbitration. (See Arbitration Case, Minute Order Granting Plaintiff's Petition to Compel Arbitration (Doc. No. 9); see also Petition at ¶ 13.)

The Company delayed proceeding with the arbitration, despite the Court's order. (Petition at ¶¶ 12-13.) On August 1, 2012, the Company failed to implement the second annual pre-scheduled pay increase. (Id. at 13)

On September 6, 2012, an arbitration hearing was held in San Bernardino, California, before arbitrator Philip Tamoush (the "Arbitrator"). (Petition at ¶ 14.) At the hearing, the following two issues were presented to the Arbitrator: (1) whether the filing for arbitration by the Union was timely; and if so, (2) whether the Company violated the labor agreement by withholding two scheduled wage increases (on August 1, 2011, and again on August 1, 2012). (Petition at ¶ 15.)

On October 9, 2012, the Arbitrator rendered his decision, determining that the arbitration request was timely and that the Company violated the labor agreement by withholding the two scheduled wage increases. (Id. at ¶ 16) The Arbitrator ordered the Company to pay the amount owed for the violation, determining that amount to be $18,256.88 (the "Arbitration Award"). (Id.) This amount was based on Cabinet Makers' review of the payroll records provided by the Company prior to the arbitration hearing, which did not include the total amount owed for the Company's violation with respect to the August 1, 2012 failure to increase wages.*fn1 (Id. at ¶ 16-17.)

On November 6, 2012, Cabinet Makers filed the Petition, pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185. (Id. at ¶ 21.) Cabinet Makers filed proof of service on November 19, 2012. (See Doc. No. 8.) The Company did not file a response.

Cabinet Makers filed an Application for Entry of Default against the Company on December 18, 2012 (Doc. No. 9). On January 23, 2013, the Court entered default against the Company. (See Doc. No. 10.)

Cabinet Makers brought the instant Application on January 24, 2013, and seeks an entry of default judgment against the Company. Cabinet Makers also seeks for the Court to order the Company to produce relevant payroll records reflecting payments made to Cabinet Makers' employees between August 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013. (Application at 5.)

II. DISCUSSION

A. Default Judgment

Local Rule 55-1 provides that an application for default judgment must be accompanied by a declaration in compliance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) setting forth: 1) when and against what party the default was entered; 2) the identification of the pleading to which default was entered; 3) whether the defaulting party is an infant or incompetent person, and if so, whether that person is represented by a general guardian, committee, conservator, or other representative; 4) that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act does not apply; and 5) that notice has been served on the defaulting party if required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2). Cabinet Makers has satisfied the requirements of Local Rule 55-1. (See Declaration of Yuliya Mirzoyan (Doc. No. 12-2) ("Mirzoyan Declaration") ¶¶ 2-6.)

"Even if entry of default has been made . . . , granting a default judgment is not automatic; rather, it is left to the sound discretion of the court." PepsiCo v. Triunfo-Mex, Inc., 189 F.R.D. 431, 432 (C.D. Cal. 1999) (citing Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980)); Laborers Health and Welfare Trust Fund for N. Cal. v. Demas Constr., Inc., 1997 WL 227976, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 14, 1997) (citing Draper v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915 (9th Cir. 1986)); see Ioane v. Alter, 1997 WL 767526, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 21, 1997) (citing Alan Neuman Prods., Inc. v. Albright, 862 F.2d 1388, 1392 (9th Cir. 1988)).

In exercising its discretion to grant or deny an application for default judgment, the Court considers the following factors: 1) the sufficiency of the complaint; 2) the substantive merits of the plaintiff's claim; 3) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff if relief is denied 4) the amount of money at stake; 5) the possibility of a dispute as to material facts; 6) whether the default was the result of excusable neglect; and 7) the strong policy of the Federal Rules that favors decisions on the merits (collectively, "Eitel factors"). Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986).

In applying the Eitel factors here, the Court finds Cabinet Makers entitled to entry of default judgment. Cabinet Makers filed the Petition, pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185. As detailed above, the Petition is sufficiently pled and Cabinet Makers' claim is substantively supported. Cabinet Makers demonstrates that it would suffer prejudice if default judgment was not entered, and the sum of money at issue here is relatively small. There is no dispute of material fact --- the Company has not responded or disputed any of Cabinet Makers' contentions. Moreover, it is unlikely that the default was the result of excusable neglect. Finally, the policy of the Federal Rules that favors decisions on the merits does not weigh against entry of default judgment here.

Accordingly, the Eitel factors favor an entry of default judgment, in favor of Cabinet Makers, against the Company.

B. Request for Order

Cabinet Makers also request the Court to order the Company to produce certain payroll records. (Application at 5.) Specifically, the Arbitration Award included a monetary award of $18,256.88 for the first annual pay increase that was to take place on August 1, 2011. (Id.) To determine the amounts owed on the second scheduled pay increase on August 1, 2012, which the Arbitrator found Cabinet Makers entitled to (see Petition ¶¶ 16-17), Cabinet Makers needs to review the relevant payroll records reflecting payments to workers beginning August 1, 2012. (Application at 5.) Cabinet Makers seeks records from August 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013, to ensure that the Company implements the increase for the entire year. (Id.) These records are necessary for Cabinet Makers to determine their damages for failure to implement the second scheduled pay increase, and the Company has not contested Cabinet Makers' request for this order. Accordingly, the Court finds it appropriate to order the Company to provide Cabinet Makers with all payroll records of Cabinet Makers' employees who are or have been covered by the collective bargaining agreement between the parties that are relevant to determine the amounts owed as to the August 1, 2012 pay increases. The Company must comply with all reasonable requests by Cabinet Makers for such payroll records, and must produce them in a timely manner and at its own expense.

IV. CONCLUSION

For the reasons set forth above, the Court (1) GRANTS default judgment in favor of Cabinet Makers against the Company and (2) ORDERS the Company to produce relevant payroll records from August 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013.


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