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Frank Vetrone, As Trustee of the Cent. v. Holt Companies Inc.

September 12, 2012

FRANK VETRONE, AS TRUSTEE OF THE CENT. NY PAINTERS & ALLIED TRADES DEFINED BENEFIT PENSION FUND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HOLT COMPANIES INC., F/K/A HOLT PAINTING CO., INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

In this action filed by Frank Vetrone as Trustee of the Central NY Painters & Allied Trades Defined Benefit Pension Fund ("Plaintiff") against Holt Companies, Inc. ("Defendant") pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") as amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 ("MPPAA"), the Court granted in part Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 in a Decision and Order dated July 11, 2012. (Dkt. No. 24.) At that time, the Court reserved judgment on that part of Plaintiff's motion that sought the award of interest, costs, and attorneys' fees until the Court received supplemental briefing from the parties. (Dkt. No. 24, at 12-13.) The Court has received that supplemental briefing. (Dkt. Nos. 25 and 27.) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment seeking interest, costs, and attorneys' fees is granted.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment

On May 18, 2011, Plaintiff moved for summary judgment in this case pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. (Dkt. No. 15.) Generally, in support of its motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff asserted the following three arguments: (1) Defendant is required by 29 U.S.C. § 1399(c)(2) to make interim payments according to the schedule set forth in the notice and demand of withdrawal liability of September 9, 2008, but has failed to do so; (2) Defendant has defaulted on that obligation pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1399(c)(5)(B), triggering the "immediate payment" provision of 29 U.S.C. § 1399(c)(5); and (3) Plaintiff is entitled to an award of interest and an additional award of interest or liquidated damages, whichever is greater, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g), as well as statutory costs and attorney fees in accordance with 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(g), 1399(c)(3) and 1451(e). (Dkt. No. 15, Attach. 2, at 9-11 [attaching pages "5" through "7" of Plf.'s Memo. of Law].) Defendant responded to Plaintiff's motion on July 5, 2011. (Dkt. No. 18.) Plaintiff filed a reply to Defendant's response on July 12, 2011. (Dkt. No. 19.) Familiarity with the legal arguments made by the parties in support of, and in opposition to, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, as well as the specific factual allegations underlying those arguments, is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for the review of the parties.

B. Decision and Order of July 11, 2012

On July 11, 2012, the Court issued a Decision and Order on Plaintiff's motion. (Dkt. No. 24.) Generally, in that Decision and Order, the Court found that (1) Defendant was liable for the withdraw liability, as calculated by Plaintiff, and was legally obligated to make the interim payments according to the schedule; and (2) Defendant had defaulted on its required payments and was therefore subject to the "immediate payment" provision of 29 U.S.C. § 1399(c)(5). (Dkt. No. 24, at 8-12.) However, the Court reserved judgment on Plaintiff's request for interest, costs, and attorney's fees until it received further briefing from the parties. (Dkt. No. 24, at 13.) Plaintiff filed his supplemental brief on July 23, 2012, and Defendant filed its supplemental brief on August 10, 2012. (Dkt. Nos. 25 and 27.)

C. Supplemental Briefings

Generally, in his supplemental brief, Plaintiff argues as follows: (1) based on a withdrawal liability of $314,833.54 and "the statutory [interest] rate of 6%, per annum," the total interest that has accrued on the sum owed from September 9, 2008, until July 11, 2012, is $72,505.53; (2) the sum of attorney's fees paid by Plaintiff is $21,940.00; (3) the sum of costs paid by Plaintiff is $661.81. (See generally Dkt. No. 25.)

In its supplemental brief, Defendant does not raise any objection to Plaintiff's calculations of interest or costs. (See generally Dkt. No. 27.) Rather, Defendant only objects to the reasonableness of Plaintiff's counsel billing 0.2 hours for leaving messages or making calendar entries, which Defendant argues should not take more than six minutes (and have not taken longer than six minutes, in defense counsel's experience with Plaintiff's counsel). (Id., at ¶¶ 2-3.) As a result, Defendant requests that the Court reduce the award of attorney's fees "accordingly." (Id. at ¶ 4.)

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Legal Standard Governing Motions for Summary Judgment

Because the parties to this action have demonstrated, in their previous filings, an accurate understanding of the legal standard governing motions for summary judgment, the Court will not recite that well-known legal standard in this Decision and Order, but will direct the reader to the Court's recent decision in Pitts v. Onondaga Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 04-CV-0828, 2009 WL 3165551, at *2-3 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 29, 2009) (Suddaby, J.), which accurately recites that legal standard.

B. Legal Standard Governing the Award of Interest in This Action Section 1132 of Title 29 of the United States Code provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

In any action under this subchapter by a fiduciary for or on behalf of a plan to enforce section 1145 of this title in which a judgment in favor of the plan is ...


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