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Carpenters Southwest Admin. Corp. v. Team Framing & Drywall, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

January 12, 2015

CARPENTERS SOUTHWEST ADMINISTRATIVE CORP., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
TEAM FRAMING & DRYWALL, LLC, et al., Defendants

For Carpenters Southwest Administrative Corporation, a California non-profit corporation, Board of Trustees for the Carpenters Southwest Trusts, Plaintiffs: Jodi Siegner, Varand Vartanian, LEAD ATTORNEYS, DeCarlo and Shanley APC, Los Angeles, CA.

ORDER RE: PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

Fernando M. Olguin, United States District Judge.

Having reviewed and considered plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of Default Judgment (" Motion") and the oral argument presented on January 8, 2015, [1] the court concludes as follows.

INTRODUCTION

On March 27, 2014, plaintiffs Carpenters Southwest Administrative Corporation (" Carpenters Southwest") and Board of Trustees for the Carpenters Southwest Trusts (" Board of Trustees") (collectively, " plaintiffs") filed a Complaint against Team Framing & Drywall, LLC (" defendant"), and Does 1-10, for failure to pay fringe benefit contributions. (See Complaint).

Defendant was served on August 14, 2014. (See Proof of Service, filed on August 14, 2014). On plaintiffs' request and pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Clerk entered default against defendant on September 11, 2014. (See Default by Clerk, filed on September 11, 2014).

On September 24, 2014, plaintiffs filed their first Motion for Default Judgment, which the court denied without prejudice on November 4, 2014. (See Court's Order of November 4, 2014). Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion on November 13, 2014. To date, defendant has not filed a responsive pleading or otherwise appeared.

SUMMARY OF FACTS

Carpenters Southwest is the corporate administrator of the Southwest Carpenters Health and Welfare Trust, the Southwest Carpenters Pension Trust, and various other plans that exist pursuant to the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § § 141, et seq. and are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § § 1001, et seq. (" ERISA"). (See Motion at 1-2; Complaint at ¶ 6). The Board of Trustees is the authorized fiduciary of these plans. (See Motion at 2; Complaint at ¶ 3). Defendant is a contractor in the construction industry, (see Complaint at ¶ 13), and allegedly has " not reported and paid the fringe benefit contributions on all hours worked by its carpenters." (Motion at 2). Plaintiffs now seek to recover $126, 578.13 in unpaid contributions, pre-judgment interest, audit fees, attorney's fees and costs. ( See id. at 10).

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that " [w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default." After the clerk enters default pursuant to Rule 55(a), the court may enter a default judgment against the party. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). Upon entry of default, the well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint are taken as true, with the exception of allegations concerning the amount of damages. See Geddes v. United Fin. Group, 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977). The scope of relief is limited to the specific demand in the complaint. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(c).

Even where well-pleaded allegations exist, " [t]he district court's decision whether to enter a default judgment is a discretionary one." Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). In exercising its discretion as to whether default judgment should be entered, the court considers the following factors: (1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff; (2) the merits of plaintiff's substantive claim; (3) the sufficiency of the complaint; (4) the sum of money at stake in the action; (5) the possibility of a dispute concerning material facts; (6) whether the default was due to excusable neglect; and (7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring decisions on the merits. See Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986) (the " Eitel factors").

DISCUSSION

I. LOCAL RULE 55-1o.

In this district, applications for default judgment must include: " (a) [w]hen and against what party the default was entered; (b) [t]he identification of the pleading to which default was entered; (c) [w]hether the defaulting party is an infant or incompetent party[; ] (d) [t]hat the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App. § 521) does not apply; and (e) [t]hat notice has been served on the defaulting party, if required by F.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2)." Local Rule 55-1.

Here, plaintiffs have satisfied the procedural requirements for entry of default judgment. Specifically, plaintiffs have established that: (a) the Clerk entered default against defendant, (see Default by Clerk, filed on September 11, 2014; Motion at 2); (b) the default is based on defendant's failure to respond to the Complaint, (see Default by Clerk, filed on September 11, 2014; Motion at 2); (c) defendant is neither an infant nor an incompetent person, (see Complaint at ¶ 13; Motion, Declaration of [Auditor] Kristin Tingley (" Tingley Decl.") at ¶ 11); (d) defendant is not in active military service (see Tingley Decl. at ¶ 11); and (e) plaintiffs served defendant with notice of the Motion. (See Notice of Motion, filed on November 13, 2014, at 3).

II. THE EITEL FACTORS.

Having concluded that default was properly entered, the court will now determine whether to enter ...


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