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Central California Electrical Industry Health and Welfare and v. Ozzimo Electric

May 15, 2013

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA ELECTRICAL INDUSTRY HEALTH AND WELFARE AND PENSION TRUST FUNDS; LOCAL UNION NO. 413 OF THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS; AND CHUCK HUDDLESTON AS TRUSTEE OF THE TRUST FUNDS,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
OZZIMO ELECTRIC, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lucy H. Koh United States District Judge

ORDER AWARDING DAMAGES FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

On December 17, 2012, the Court granted in part and denied in part the Motion for Default Judgment filed by Plaintiffs Central California Electrical Industry Health and Welfare and Pension 21 Trust Funds ("Trust Funds"), Local Union No. 413 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical 22 Workers ("IBEW Local 413"), and Chuck Huddleston as Trustee of the Trust Funds (collectively, 23 "Plaintiffs"). See ECF No. 27 ("Order"). Although the Court found that Plaintiffs were entitled to 24 an entry of default judgment, the Court also found that Plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient 25 documentation to support their request for relief. Id. at 5-8. As such, the Court ordered Plaintiffs 26 to submit documentation justifying the unpaid contributions, liquidated damages, interest on 27 Defendant's delinquent or unpaid contributions, attorney's fees, and costs that Plaintiffs requested. 28

Having reviewed Plaintiffs' supplemental briefing and documentation, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently cured the deficiencies identified in the Court's Order. Accordingly, the 2 Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment and AWARDS damages in the amount of 3 $37,943.93. 4

I.FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs initiated this action in order to recover unpaid contributions pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132 and 29 U.S.C. 7 § 1145, and the Labor-Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185. See Complaint 8 6 ("Compl.") ¶ 1, ECF No. 1. The Trust Funds are the authorized collection agents for all entities 9 related to IBEW Local 413 for which monthly contributions are required, including employees' 10 health care, pension, and union dues. Compl. ¶ 3. Plaintiff Chuck Huddleston has the joint duty to 11 administer the Trust Funds for the benefit of the covered employees and to collect unpaid employer 12 contributions and related losses. Compl. ¶ 4. 13

Defendant is engaged in the electrical wiring business in and around Orange, California.

Compl. ¶ 5. In January of 2009, Defendant signed a "Letter of Assent" to a collective bargaining 15 agreement ("CBA") between the IBEW Local 413 and the Central California Chapter of the 16 National Electrical Contractors' Association ("NECA"). See Decl. of Chuck Huddleston in Supp. 17 of Mot. Default J. ("Huddleston Decl."), Exh. A, ECF No. 22; see also Compl. ¶ 7. In so doing, 18 Defendant agreed to be bound by the terms and conditions of the CBA, which requires an employer 19 to make monthly financial contributions to NECA and the Trust Funds. Id. In addition, the CBA 20 requires Defendant to be bound by the applicable Trust Agreements that established the Trust 21 Funds. Id. In return, the Trust Funds provide fringe benefits to Defendant's covered employees 22 based on the hours reported on monthly transmittals. Under the CBA and Trust Agreements, an 23 employer who fails to make timely contributions to the Trust Funds is liable to the Trust Funds for 24 all unpaid contributions, interest, liquidated damages on the unpaid principal, attorney's fees, and 25 collection costs. Compl. ¶ 8. 26

Plaintiffs allege that, for the months of November 2010 through July 2011, Defendant 27 repeatedly underpaid or failed to pay the required contributions pursuant to the CBA. Mot. Default 28 J., ECF No. 21, at 3; see Decl. of Sandy Stephenson in Supp. of Mot. Default J. ("Stephenson Decl.") ¶ 12, ECF No. 23. Consequently, on March 19, 2012, Plaintiffs filed this action for failure 2 to make employer contributions and breach of fiduciary duty, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132, 29 3 U.S.C. § 1145, and 29 U.S.C. § 185. ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs then served Defendant with a copy of 4 the Summons, Complaint, and related documents. ECF No. 4. Defendant was required to file and 5 serve his responsive pleading on Plaintiffs no later than April 9, 2012, pursuant to Rule 6 12(a)(1)(A)(i) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. However, Defendant failed to file any 7 responsive pleading. On June 7, 2012, pursuant to Plaintiffs' request, the Clerk of the Court 8 entered default against Defendant. ECF No. 15. Plaintiffs then moved this Court for entry of 9 default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 21. 10

On December 17, 2012, the Court found that Plaintiffs were entitled to entry of default judgment because of the merits of Plaintiffs' claims and the sufficiency of the complaint, the fact that Plaintiffs would be prejudiced if default judgment was not entered, the sum of money at stake 13 in the action, and the fact that there was no indication that Defendant's default was due to 14 excusable neglect or that the material facts were subject to dispute. See Order at 3-4 (analyzing 15 the factors set forth in Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986), in order to 16 determine whether a default judgment was warranted). However, the Court was not convinced that 17

Plaintiffs were entitled to the specific amount of unpaid contributions, liquidated damages, interest 18 on Defendant's delinquent or unpaid contributions, and attorney's fees as asserted against 19 Defendant, given the lack of documentary support provided by Plaintiffs to justify the requested 20 relief. 21

Pursuant to the Court's Order, Plaintiffs then filed a Supplemental Brief in Support of Default Judgment. See Supp. Br. Supp. Default J., ECF No. 32. In addition, Plaintiffs filed a 23 supplemental declaration by Sandy Stephenson, an employee of the United Administrative 24 Services, which assists in the collection and disbursement of funds for the Trust Funds. See Supp. 25

Stephenson Decl., ECF No. 33. Attached to this declaration are copies of official transmittals 26 showing the specific amount Defendant owes for the reporting period from November 2010 27 through July 2011. See Supp. Stephenson Decl., Exh. A. Plaintiffs also filed a supplemental 28 declaration by Chloe Quail, the attorney for Plaintiffs in this action. See Supp. Quail Decl., ECF No. 34. The Supplemental Quail Declaration includes, as Exhibit A, the billing invoice for this 2 action. See Supp. Quail Decl., Exh. A. 3

II.DISCUSSION

In light of Defendant's default, Plaintiffs now request judgment in the amount of $37,943.93 pursuant to 29 U.S.C. ยง 1132(g)(2). Section 1132(g)(2) of ERISA states that, in an 6 action by a "fiduciary for or on behalf of a plan to enforce [29 ...


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