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King v. Silver Streak Transport Ltd.

February 2, 2007

THE ODORE KING AND GARY LA BARBERA, TRUSTEES OF LOCAL 282 INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS WELFARE, PENSION, ANNUITY, JOB TRAINING AND VACATION SICK LEAVE TRUST FUNDS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SILVER STREAK TRANSPORT LTD. AND CYNTHIA PERSICHILLI, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gold, S., U.S.M.J.

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Introduction

Plaintiffs, the Trustees of Local 282 International Brotherhood of Teamsters Welfare, Pension, Annuity, Job Training and Vacation/Sick Leave Trust Funds (the "Funds"), bring this action pursuant to the Employer Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132 and 1145. Plaintiffs seek to recover unpaid fringe benefit contributions, interest, liquidated damages, attorney's fees, and costs allegedly owed to the Funds by defendants Silver Streak Transport Ltd. ("Silver Streak") and Cynthia Persichilli.

Procedural History

Plaintiffs filed their complaint on February 28, 2005, and Silver Streak filed an answer on March 14, 2005. Docket Entries 1, 5. On February 3, 2006, the parties consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction for all purposes including entry of judgment. Docket Entry 13. Plaintiffs filed an Affidavit in support of their claims for damages on February 28, 2006. Docket Entries 14-16. Defendants submitted opposition to plaintiffs' claim for damages, dated March 9, 2006, but not filed electronically until April 10, 2006. Docket Entry 21. Plaintiffs filed a response to defendants' opposition on April 7, 2006. Docket Entry 20.

On July 19, 2006, I held a telephonic hearing, at which time both counsel presented oral argument on the issues discussed herein. Neither party sought to call witnesses and the parties requested that I render judgment based solely on the existing record. Hr. 6-7.*fn1 Plaintiffs submitted a post-argument letter on July 21, 2006. Docket Entry 23. Defendants were given the opportunity to submit a post-argument letter in response but declined to do so.

Discussion

The parties have requested that I make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and enter judgment, based solely on the submitted papers and oral argument. Hr. 6-7. For the reasons discussed below, I dismiss the claims against Cynthia Persichilli, resolve the sole factual dispute in plaintiffs' favor, and direct the Clerk to enter a judgment against defendant Silver Streak in the amount of $25,588.09.

I. The Claims Against Cynthia Persichilli

Plaintiffs allege that Cynthia Persichilli, an officer of the Silver Streak corporation, submitted a contribution check to the Funds in her "personal capacity" for the period of December, 2001, and is therefore personally liable for the damages plaintiffs incurred when the check was returned for insufficient funds. Cmpl. ¶¶ 28-31; Hr. 7-8.

As I noted at the hearing on July 19, 2006, the check in question was drawn on a corporate account and was clearly tendered to satisfy a corporate obligation. Moreover, plaintiffs' acceptance of many other checks tendered in the same manner as this one over the course of years makes it clear that plaintiffs understood Ms. Persichilli to be satisfying a corporate obligation and were not relying upon her personal creditworthiness. Hr. 7-9. Therefore, the claims against Ms. Persichilli are dismissed.

II. The Documents Relevant to Each Period of Delinquent Contributions

Plaintiffs allege that defendant Silver Streak was delinquent in its payments for numerous contribution periods spanning from September, 2000 through June, 2005. Pl. ¶¶ 14-43.*fn2 Several bargaining agreements and trust declarations were in operation between the parties over that period of time. Because the agreements covering different periods set forth different relevant terms, such as the interest rate to be applied in the event of untimely payments, it is necessary to determine which document was in effect during each relevant time period.

A. Delinquent Contributions from September, 2000 through October, 2003

Plaintiffs and Silver Streak entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement for the period from July 1, 1993 through June 30, 1996 ("1993-1996 CBA"). Pl. ¶ 7 and Ex. B. The terms of the 1993-1996 CBA remained in effect through June 30, 1999, pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement ("MOA") executed by plaintiffs and Silver Streak. Pl. ¶ 8 and Ex. C. Plaintiffs executed a Restated Agreement and Declaration of Trust prior to December 31, 1999 (the "1999 Declaration"), although the exact date of this document's execution is not stated in the record. See Pl. ¶ 11 and Ex. G; Hr. 14-16.

Silver Streak did not sign the 1999 Declaration. Nevertheless, I conclude that Silver Streak is bound by its terms and conditions ...


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