Trs. of Elec. Welfare Tr. Fund v. America's Best Serv.

Decision Date10 November 2020
Docket NumberCase No.: GJH-19-2047
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Maryland

The Electrical Welfare Trust Fund ("Welfare Fund"), the Electrical Workers Local No. 26 Pension Trust Fund ("Pension Fund"), the Local No. 26 Joint Apprenticeship and Training Trust Fund ("Apprenticeship Fund"), the Local No. 26 Individual Account Fund ("IA Fund"), the National Electrical Benefit Fund ("NEBF") (collectively, the "Plaintiff Funds"), the Local Labor Management Cooperation Committee ("LMCC"), the National Electrical Contractors Association, Washington D.C. Chapter ("NECA"), the Local No. 26, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ("Local 26") and their respective trustees and collection agents (collectively with the Plaintiff Funds, the "Plaintiffs"), bring this action against Defendant America's Best Service, Inc. under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq. (1982), and Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1948 ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185. Now pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 13. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted, in part, and denied, in part. Judgment is entered against Defendant in the total amount of $135,291.19, exclusive of attorneys' fees and costs.


The Plaintiff Funds are multiemployer employee benefit plans as defined in ERISA Section 3(37), 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3). ECF No. 13-2 ¶ 4. The Funds were established, and are maintained, as the result of collective bargaining pursuant to Section 302(c)(5) and (6) of LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5) and (6). ECF No. 1 ¶ 4; ECF No. 5 ¶ 4.

Defendant is a corporation incorporated under the laws of the state of Maryland. ECF No. ECF No. 1 ¶ 10; ECF No. 5 ¶ 10. Defendant is an "employer" within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 152(2) and Section 3(5) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(5), and was engaged in an "industry affecting commerce," within the meanings of Sections 3(11) and (12) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1002(11) and (12). ECF No. 1 ¶ 10; ECF No. 5 ¶ 10.

On November 19, 2007, Defendant executed a Letter of Assent that authorized Plaintiff NECA to be its collective bargaining representative for labor agreements between NECA and Plaintiff Local 26, a local union of electrical workers covering Washington, D.C., and parts of Maryland and Virginia that represents employees in an industry affecting interstate commerce. ECF No. 13-2 ¶¶ 5, 9; ECF No. 13-2 at 9-10. In signing the Letter of Assent, Defendant agreed "to comply with, and be bound by, all of the provisions contained in [the CBAs]." Id. at 9. At all times relevant to this action, Defendant agreed to the terms of the CBAs obligating it to make monthly contributions to the Plaintiff Funds. Id. ¶¶ 10-12. Payments due to Plaintiffs are calculated separately for each Plaintiff based on remittance reports prepared by the employers, subject to audit. Id. ¶¶ 13-15. Pursuant to the terms of the CBAs and Trust Agreements, thecompleted remittance reports and accompanying contributions and dues payments are due to the Plaintiffs no later than the 30th day after the end of each month in which the contributions or dues accrued and are delinquent if received thereafter. Id. ¶ 16.

Pursuant to terms of the CBAs and the Trust Agreements, Defendant is required to:

a) submit to Plaintiffs, within 30 days of the end of the month in which the contributions and dues accrued, remittance reports listing the name of each person employed pursuant to the CBAs and the number of compensable hours of wages paid to each such person during the relevant month;
b) submit contributions to the Plaintiff Funds, LLMCC and NECA in the amounts due under the CBAs;
c) pay interest and liquidated damages to the Plaintiff Funds on any contributions submitted after the due date. Interest is to be assessed at the greater of the rate provided for in IRC §6621 or D.C. Code §28-3301(a) on all delinquent contributions, calculated from the due date of each delinquent contribution until the date the delinquent contribution is actually paid to the relevant Plaintiff Fund.2 Liquidated damages are to be assessed in an amount equal to the greater of 20% of each delinquent monthly contribution, or $50.00 per month;
d) pay attorneys' fees and costs incurred by the Trustees in collecting the amounts due the Plaintiff Funds; and
e) withhold and make payment for union dues of members to Local 26.

Id. ¶ 17.

According to the Declaration of Michael McCarron and attached exhibits submitted in support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment ("McCarron Declaration"), Defendant failed to make the requisite contributions and union dues payments, and failed to submit the corresponding remittance reports, for work performed during the months of October and November 2019. ECF No. 13-2 ¶ 19. Additionally, the Declaration states that Defendant underpaid contributions from May 2018 through July 2019 in the amount of $5,351.26, id. ¶ 21, and was habitually late in paying contributions from April 2018 through September 2019, id. ¶ 23. Defendant generally disputes that it missed all of the contributions alleged but does not specify which it paid or provide any evidence supporting this claim. ECF No. 14 at 2.

Lacking the remittance reports for October and November 2019, Plaintiffs originally estimated, based on Defendant's September 2019 payment, that Defendant owed $60,651.26 in delinquent contributions and dues;3 $6,653.45 in interest, calculated through January 14, 2020, and $120,569.22 in liquidated damages, exclusive of attorneys' fees and costs. ECF No. 13-2 ¶¶ 20-24; ECF No. 13-2 at 231; ECF No. 13-1 at 7. Defendant has since submitted remittance reports and contributions in the amount of $66,723.31 for October and November 2019, but has not paid interest or liquidated damages for those months. ECF No. 18-1 ¶¶ 2, 7. Defendant has also not paid the delinquent contributions from May 2018 through July 2019, or the interest and liquidated damages for the unpaid and late-paid contributions from April 2018 through September 2019. Id. ¶¶ 5-7. Based on the actual contributions and reports provided, rather thanthe earlier estimates, Plaintiffs now seek $6,130.51 in delinquent contributions;4 $7,389.08 in interest, calculated through April 8, 2020; $133,723.51 in liquidated damages; and attorneys' fees and costs. Id. ¶ 8; Id. at 4; ECF No. 18 at 5.

On July 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant under ERISA Sections 502(g)(2) and 515, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(g)(2) and 1145, and LMRA Section 301(a), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), to collect delinquent contributions and dues they claimed Defendant owes to the Plaintiffs under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement with Plaintiff Local 26 to which Defendant is bound. ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on January 17, 2020. ECF No. 13. Defendant filed its Opposition on February 20, 2020. ECF No. 14. Plaintiffs filed their Reply Memorandum on April 16, 2020. ECF No. 18.


Summary judgment is appropriate if "materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations, . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials," Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), show that there is "no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law," Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating that no genuine dispute exists as to material facts. Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). If the moving party demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party toidentify specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

A material fact is one that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 183 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute of material fact is only genuine if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. However, the nonmoving party "cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another." Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1986). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Hearsay statements or conclusory statements with no evidentiary basis cannot support or defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Greensboro Prof'l Firefighters Ass'n, Local 3157 v. City of Greensboro, 64 F.3d 962, 967 (4th Cir. 1995).

The Court is not prohibited from granting a motion for summary judgment before the commencement of discovery. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (stating that the court "shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact" without distinguishing pre-or post-discovery). However, summary judgment should not be granted if the nonmoving party has not had the opportunity to discover information that is essential to his opposition to the motion. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250 n.5. Under Rule 56(d), the Court may deny a motion for summary judgment if the non-movant shows that, for specified reasons, he or she cannot properly present facts, currently unavailable to him or her, that are essential to justify an opposition. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(d). However, a party generally...

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