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Trustees of the Southern California Ibew-Neca Pension Plan; Trustees v. Gartel Corp

April 19, 2013

TRUSTEES OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA IBEW-NECA PENSION PLAN; TRUSTEES OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA IBEWNECA HEALTH TRUST FUND, TRUSTEES OF THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY ELECTRICAL EDUCATIONAL AND TRAINING TRUST FUND; TRUSTEES OF THE NATIONAL ELECTRICAL BENEFIT FUND; TRUSTEES OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA IBEWNECA LABOR-MANAGEMENT COOPERATION COMMITTEE, CONTRACT COMPLIANCE FUND; NATIONAL ELECTRIACL INDUSTRY FUND; ADMINISTRATIVE MAINTENANCE FUND; LOS ANGELES ELECTRICAL WORKERS CREDIT UNION, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GARTEL CORP., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Otis D. Wright, II United States District Judge

O

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT [28]

I.INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs are trustees of various trusts created under trust agreements between a local union chapter and an employers' association. These agreements and others obligated Defendant Gartel Corp. to pay certain contributions at specified rates depending on how many hours its employees worked on covered projects. When Gartel failed to pay all required fringe-benefit contributions, Plaintiffs filed suit. Since Gartel never answered, the Clerk entered default, and Plaintiffs moved for default judgment. After considering Gartel's liability and Plaintiffs' requested damages and costs, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment.*fn1

II.FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Trustees of the Southern California IBEW-NECA Pension Plan, Trustees of the Southern California IBEW-NECA Health Trust Fund, Trustees of the Los Angeles County Electrical Educational and Training Trust Fund, Trustees of the National Electrical Benefit Fund, and Trustees of the Southern California IBEWNECA Labor-Management Cooperation Committee are trustees of express trusts created under trust agreements between various chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ("IBEW") and employers' associations of the National Electrical Contractors Association ("NECA"). (Compl. ¶ 5.) Contract Compliance Fund, National Electrical Industry Fund, Administrative Maintenance Fund, and Los Angeles Electrical Workers Credit Union all collect various payments authorized under collective-bargaining agreements. (Id.)

Gartel is incorporated and has its principal place of business in California. (Id. ¶ 6.) On or before January 1, 2008, Gartel performed electrical work on various public-works projects covered by the Los Angeles Unified School District Project Stabilization Agreement--New School Construction and Major Rehabilitation Funded by Proposition BB and/or Measure K ("PSA"). (Id. ¶ 7.) Gartel is bound to the PSA for work performed on projects covered by the agreement. (Id. ¶ 8.)

The PSA incorporates, among others, the Inside Wiremen's Agreement and the Sound & Communications Agreement, which are collective-bargaining agreements between IBEW Local 11 and the Los Angeles County Chapter of NECA. (Id. ¶ 9.) On November 17, 2008, Gartel also signed a letter of assent to both of these agreements. (Id. ¶¶ 10--11.) The Inside Wiremen's Agreement incorporates the terms of Plaintiffs' trust agreements. (Johnson Decl. ¶ 7.) As an employer, the agreements obligate Gartel to pay, among other things, fringe-benefit contributions on a monthly basis at specified rates for each hour worked by covered employees. (Compl. ¶ 14(B).) If an employer fails to timely pay mandated contributions, the employer also becomes liable for liquidated damages, interest, audit fees, litigation expenses, and reasonable attorneys' fees. (Johnson Decl. Ex. B, at 16; Ex. C, at 31.)

Since January 1, 2008, Gartel has failed to pay to Plaintiffs all required fringe-benefit and other contributions for five different Los Angeles Unified School District projects. (Compl. ¶ 18; Ware Decl. Ex. 1.) Plaintiffs' auditor calculated $109,335.40 in missing contributions for the period of January 1, 2009, through April 24, 2012. (Ware ¶ 6, Ex. 1; Mot. 4.)

On July 19, 2011, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Gartel for breach of the trust and collective-bargaining agreements and violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"). Plaintiffs filed a proof of service on August 24, 2011. (ECF No. 5.) Since Gartel never answered, the Clerk entered default. (ECF No. 16.) On April 1, 2013, Plaintiffs moved for default judgment. Defendants have not opposed the Motion, and it is now before the Court for decision.

III.LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) authorizes a district court to grant default judgment after the Clerk enters default under Rule 55(a). Local Rule 55-1 requires that the movant submit a declaration establishing (1) when and against which party default was entered; (2) identification of the pleading to which default was entered; (3) whether the defaulting party is a minor, incompetent person, or active servicemember; and (4) that the defaulting party was properly served with notice.

A district court has discretion whether to enter a default judgment. Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). Upon default, the defendant's liability generally is conclusively established, and the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint are accepted as true. Televideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal,826 F.2d 915, 917-- 19 (9th Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (citing Geddes v. United Fin. Grp., 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977)).

In exercising its discretion, a court must consider several factors, including (1) the possibility of prejudice to plaintiff; (2) the merits of plaintiff's substantive claim; (3) the sufficiency of the complaint; (4) the sum of money at stake; (5) the possibility of a dispute concerning material facts; (6) whether the defendant's default was due to excusable neglect; and (7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules ...


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