The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOAN AZRACK, Chief Magistrate Judge
Plaintiffs, the trustees and fiduciaries (the "Trustees") of
Local 807 Labor-Management Health and Pension Funds (the
"Funds"), bring this action under Sections 502 and 515 of the
Employee Retirement Income and Security Act of 1974, as amended
("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(a)(3) and 1145, against defendant,
River Trucking and Rigging, Inc. ("River Trucking"), to collect
unpaid fringe benefit contributions to the Funds. Plaintiffs also
seek interest, liquidated damages, as well as attorney's fees and
costs pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2).
By motion of December 17, 2004, plaintiffs move for summary
judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The parties have consented to disposition of
this action by a magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
For the reasons set forth below, plaintiffs' motion for summary
judgment is hereby granted.
Defendant River Trucking is a New York corporation, having its
principal place of business in Brooklyn, New York, and is engaged
in the business of providing trucking and rigging services on a
per contract basis. (Def.'s Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Pls.' Mot.
for Summ. J. ("Def.'s Opp'n") at 1.) Defendant entered into the
National Master Freight Agreement (the "Agreement") with Truck
Drivers Local Union No. 807 of the International Brotherhood of
Teamsters (the "Union") covering the period April 1, 1998 through
March 31, 2003. (Pls'. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 3.) Under the terms of the
Agreement, defendant was required to make specific contributions
to the Funds for each hour worked by employees covered by the
Agreement. (Id. at ¶ 4.) The Funds are multiemployer benefit
plans within the meaning of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1002(3) and (37),
and are collectively bargained funds created pursuant to
29 U.S.C. § 186(c). (Id. at ¶ 1.) The Funds hired Schultheis &
Panettieri to conduct an audit of defendant's payroll records for
the period November 1, 1999 through September 30, 2003. (Id. at
¶ 6.) The audit was conducted on November 14, 2003 and it was
determined that for the period January 1, 2000 through December
31, 2002 defendant did not make all of the required contributions
to the Funds for employees Ryan Farrell ("Farrell"), Julio Cali
("Cali"), and Henry Womack ("Womack"). (River Trucking Payroll
Audit, annexed to Pls.' Mot. for Summ. J. at F0008-F00013.) The
audit revealed that defendant's unpaid contributions totaled
$15,048.80. (Id. at F00010.) In addition to $15,048.80 for
unpaid contributions, plaintiffs are seeking interest, liquidated damages, attorney's fees, and costs.
A. Summary Judgment Standard
The standard for granting summary judgment is well established.
Summary judgment should be granted only where there is "no
genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c);
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see
also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 585-87 (1986). "[T]he burden is upon the moving party
to demonstrate that no genuine issue respecting any material fact
exists," Gallo v. Prudential Residential Services, L.P.,
22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994), but "the mere existence of some
alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an
otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).
"An issue of fact is `material' for these purposes if it `might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law,'" while
"[a]n issue of fact is `genuine' if `the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving
party.'" Konikoff v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America,
234 F.3d 92, 97 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).
In determining whether any material facts are in dispute, the
court "must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its
favor." Am. Cas. Co. of Reading, Pa. v. Nordic Leasing, Inc.,
42 F.3d 725, 728 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting Consarc Corp. v. Marine
Midland Bank, N.A., 996 F.2d 568, 572 (2d Cir. 1993)); see
also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. To defeat a motion for summary
judgment, the non-moving party must "set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. The
non-moving party, however, "must do more than show there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Id. at 586. Mere
conclusory allegations, speculation or conjecture will not avail
a party resisting summary judgment. Kerzer v. Kingly Mfg.,
156 F.3d 396, 400 (2d Cir. 1998); Kulak v. City of New York,
88 F.3d 63, 71 (2d Cir. 1996). The non-moving party must come forth
with "significant probative evidence" demonstrating that a
factual dispute does in fact exist. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.
B. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment
Under Section 515 of ERISA, employers are required "to make
contributions to a multiemployer plan under the terms of the plan
or under the terms of a collectively bargained agreement. . . ."
29 U.S.C. § 1145.
Plaintiffs assert that for the period January 1, 2000 through
December 31, 2002 defendant failed to make required contributions
to the Funds totaling $15,048.80 for employees Farrell, Cali, and
Womack. (Aff. of Alfred Fernandez dated Oct. 28, 2004 ("Fernandez
Aff."), ¶ 5.) Plaintiffs further assert that during this time,
defendants made only sporadic contributions to the Funds on
behalf of these three employees. (Aff. of Viorel Kuzma dated Oct.
18, 2004 ("Kuzma Aff."), ¶ 4.) In addition to $15,048.80 in
delinquent contributions, plaintiffs are also requesting
interest, liquidated damages, attorney's fees, and costs. (Pls.'
Mot. for Summ. J. at 4.)
Defendant makes two arguments in opposition to plaintiffs'
motion for summary judgment. First, defendant argues that Farrell
was not a "teamster driver" but an office employee and not a
member of the union. (Def.'s Opp'n at 2.) Defendant, therefore,
contends that it was not required to make contributions to the
Funds on his behalf. (Id.) Second, defendant argues that Cali and Womack did not work for River Trucking at various
times from January 1, 2000 through December 31, 2002 because of a
company work shortage. (Id.) Defendant states that during these
periods of "lay-offs," it would "loan [Cali and Womack] money to
carry them over" and "these monies were paid back to the company
at a later date." (Id.; see also Aff. of Julio Cali dated
Jan. 23, 2004 ("Cali Aff."), Ex. B to Def.'s Opp'n; Aff. of Henry
Womack dated Jan. ...