827 F.2d 1324 (9th Cir. 1987), 86-4208, Pierce County Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Health Trust v. Elks Lodge, B.P.O.E. No. 1450
|Citation:||827 F.2d 1324|
|Party Name:||PIERCE COUNTY HOTEL EMPLOYEES AND RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES HEALTH TRUST, and Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Pension Trust, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. ELKS LODGE, B.P.O.E. NO. 1450, Defendant-Appellant.|
|Case Date:||September 14, 1987|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit|
Argued and Submitted July 6, 1987.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Robert A. Bohrer, Seattle, Wash., for plaintiffs-appellees.
Curman Sebree, Tacoma, Wash., for defendant-appellant.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Before FARRIS, ALARCON and WIGGINS, Circuit Judges.
WIGGINS, Circuit Judge:
Puyallup Elks Lodge B.P.O.E. No. 1450 (Lodge) appeals an award of delinquent employee benefit contributions to Pierce County Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Health Trust and Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Pension Trust (Trusts). The Lodge claims that the district court should have considered extrinsic evidence to interpret the meaning of an ambiguous contract term, and that the action is barred by modification, the statute of limitations, estoppel, and laches. We affirm.
The Lodge entered into consecutive collective bargaining agreements in 1974, 1977, 1980, and 1983 with the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union Local No. 8 (Union) and its predecessor union locals. Each contract obliged the Lodge to pay pension and health contributions to the Trusts for "any person performing work covered by this agreement, whether such employees are members of the union in good standing or not."
The Trusts are third party beneficiaries of the collective bargaining agreements and are multiemployer employee benefits plans governed by section 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. Sec. 186, and section 401 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. Sec. 1101.
From 1974 through 1985, the Lodge failed to contribute to the Trusts for nonunion temporary employees. In 1979, Floyd Dawson, the Lodge general manager, sent a letter to William Pollack, a secretary of the Union and chairman of the Trusts. The letter confirmed an oral agreement between Dawson and another Union official exempting temporary workers from contributions. During contract negotiations in 1983, the Union and the Lodge again orally agreed to exempt temporary workers. An independent auditor examined the Lodge's payroll records in August 1984 and discovered the Lodge's failure to contribute for those workers.
The Trusts sued the Lodge in February 1985 for unpaid contributions accruing from 1980 to 1985 under section 301 of LMRA, 29 U.S.C. Sec. 185, and sections 502(a)(3) and 515 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. Secs. 1132(a)(3), 1145. The Lodge filed a motion
for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations, which was denied. At trial, the Lodge offered the 1979 letter to show an agreement or modification exempting temporary workers from contributions. The court refused to consider the letter to vary the collective bargaining agreement and rejected the modification defense. Judgment was entered against the Lodge for $54,546.24 in unpaid contributions accruing from November 1980 through July 1985, liquidated damages, and interest.
I. CONTRACT INTERPRETATION
The district court...
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