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Iron Workers Dist. Council of Western New York v. D.C. Scott

February 22, 2007

IRON WORKERS DISTRICT COUNCIL OF WESTERN NEW YORK AND VICINITY ANNUITY AND PENSION FUNDS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
D.C. SCOTT, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Larimer United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs commenced this action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1145, and the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), against defendants to collect delinquent fringe benefit contributions and deductions and to compel defendants to produce their books and records for an audit. Plaintiffs also seek penalties, interest, costs, disbursements, and attorneys' fees.

Pending before the Court is plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, filed October 3, 2006, against defendant D.C. Scott, Inc. only ("defendant" or "the company").*fn1 (Dkt. #22).

Shortly after plaintiffs' motion was filed, defendants' counsel moved for leave to withdraw as counsel of record for all defendants based on the clients' request in July 2006 that he stop all services and immediately cease representing them in this matter (Dkt. #26). By Order filed October 26, 2006, defendants were given an opportunity to respond to counsel's motion (Dkt. #27). Defendants were advised that the motion would likely be granted if they failed to respond. Defendants also were advised that they should take steps to obtain other counsel, or proceed pro se, and that D.C. Scott, Inc. still had to respond to the pending motion for summary judgment.

After two months passed without receiving a response from defendants, I granted counsel's motion to withdraw on December 20, 2006 (Dkt. #28). In the same Order, I gave D.C. Scott, Inc., now proceeding pro se, until January 12, 2007, either to advise the Court that it had obtained new counsel or to respond to plaintiffs' motion. In addition, the Order set forth the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 and the consequences for failing to respond in accordance with requirements of Rule 56(e). The company, however, did not respond to either the pending motion or the Court's Order.

On February 1, 2007, plaintiffs' counsel wrote the Court requesting that summary judgment be entered in light of the company's failure to respond. On February 5, 2007, after the deadline for opposing the motion had passed, and after remaining silent for months, defendant sent the Court by facsimile an unsworn, one-page letter signed by Andrea Scott objecting to the entry of summary judgment. The Court sent a copy of defendant's letter (which was neither filed with the Clerk of the Court nor sent to opposing counsel) to plaintiffs' counsel, who, in turn, responded by letter dated February 7, 2007.

For the reasons set forth below, plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment against D.C. Scott, Inc. is granted.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment: General Principles

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a moving party is entitled to summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." The Court's role in summary judgment is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must draw inferences from underlying facts "in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-588 (1986) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)).

Moreover, where the party opposing summary judgment is proceeding pro se, the Court must "read the pleadings ... liberally and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Corcoran v. New York Power Auth., 202 F.3d 530, 536 (2d Cir.1999) (quotations omitted). Nevertheless, "proceeding pro se does not otherwise relieve [defendant] from the usual requirements of summary judgment." Fitzpatrick v. New York Cornell Hosp., No. 00 Civ. 8594, 2003 WL 102853,*5 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 9, 2003) (citing cases); see also Stinson v. Sheriff's Dep't of Sullivan County, 499 F.Supp. 259, 262 (S.D.N.Y.1980) (holding that the liberal standard accorded to pro se pleadings "is not without limits, and all normal rules of pleading are not absolutely suspended").

II. Defendant did not Comply with the Local and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

For several reasons, defendant's February 5, 2007, letter is not sufficient to withstand plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. The letter is not in the form of a sworn statement, as required ...


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