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Rochester Laborers' Pension, Welfare-S.U.B., Annuity and Apprentice v. Massa Construction

April 15, 2013

ROCHESTER LABORERS' PENSION, WELFARE-S.U.B., ANNUITY AND APPRENTICE AND TRAINING FUNDS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MASSA CONSTRUCTION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Siragusa, J. Plaintiffs Rochester Laborers' Pension Fund, Rochester Laborers' Welfare-S.U.B. Fund, Rochester Laborers' Annuity Fund, Rochester Laborers' Apprentice and Training Funds, ("the Rochester Funds") and Laborers' International Union of North America, Local Union No. 435 ("Local No. 435") brought this action against Defendants Massa Construction, Inc. and Nicholas P. Massa, individually, to collect fringe benefit contributions, deductions, interest, liquidated damages and attorney's fees and costs and disbursements pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, Agreements and Declarations of Trust, a Collections Policy, a Stipulation of Settlement and for Entry of Judgment, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(g)(2) and 1145, and the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185.

Currently pending before the Court are Defendants' motion for declaratory judgment pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, ECF No. 22, and Plaintiffs' cross-motion for entry of judgment pursuant to Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure against Defendants in the amount of $52,830.64, ECF No. 26.

For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion for declaratory judgment is denied, and Plaintiffs' cross-motion for entry of judgment is granted.

BACKGROUND*fn1

In June, 2007, Defendant Massa Construction, Inc., became signatory to a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between Plaintiff Local Union No. 435 ("Local No. 435") and the Construction Industry Association of Rochester, N.Y., Inc. and Certain Independent Contractors. Under the CBA, Defendants agreed to remit contributions to Plaintiffs on behalf of all of hours of laborers' work performed within Local No. 435's geographic jurisdiction. The CBA did not require Defendants to make remittances to outside union benefit plans for laborers' work within Local No. 435's jurisdiction.

According to Plaintiffs, Defendants failed to remit contributions and deductions between November 2003, and June, 2004. Plaintiffs subsequently filed the instant action on March 30, 2007, to collect the delinquent fringe benefit contributions, deductions, interest, liquidated damages, attorneys' and paralegal fees, and costs and disbursement. See Compl., ECF No. 1.

In settlement of this action, Defendants executed a "Stipulation of Settlement and for Entry of Judgment" on November 19, 2009. See Clark Aff. Ex. A, Apr. 22, 2011, ECF No. 26-2. Pursuant to the Stipulation, Defendants agreed to pay the Plaintiffs the sum of $9,000.00 in settlement of an alleged debt of $45, 563.01, comprised of contributions and dues ($7,258.56), interest ($8,337.78), liquidated damages ($8,109.87), audit fees ($479.35), and attorneys' fees ($21,467.15). Aff., Ex. A, ECF No. 26-2. The parties both agreed to "abide by the terms and conditions of [the] Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Plaintiff Union and abide by the Plaintiff Funds' Agreements and Declarations of Trusts and Collections Policy . . . ." Id., Ex. A, ¶ 7(D). One of the events of default contained in the Stipulation of Settlement is the Defendants' failure to remit fringe benefit contributions and dues on a timely basis. Id., Ex. A, ¶ 7(G).

Defendants agreed that if they failed to abide by any of the settlement terms, Plaintiffs could take judgment against them for $36,563.01, plus interest, attorneys' fees, and costs since October 6, 2009. Specifically,

If the Debtors default as defined in paragraph No. 7(G), the Plaintiffs are entitled, without notice to the Defendants of said default, without demand upon Defendants for payment, and without notice to the Defendants of an application for entry of judgment, to file this Stipulation of Settlement with the Court, and a judgment will be taken against the Defendants for the entire unpaid balance of the debt set forth in paragraph No. 5 above plus any and all interest and attorneys' fees and costs incurred since October 6, 2009 in connection with collection of the debt . . . .

Id., Ex. A, ¶ 7(H).

Defendants acknowledge that they remitted fringe benefit contributions and dues on a timely basis through June, 2010, when they began to withhold remittances on the basis of an alleged issue concerning the Rochester Funds' failure to reciprocate fringe benefits to the Local 103 Funds.*fn2 "Reciprocation" is a process by which a fund that receives fringe benefit contributions for a laborer who is a participant in another local fund, transfers those fringe benefit contributions to that laborer's "home" fund so that laborers who work outside the geographic jurisdiction of their home local will receive proper credit for the fringe benefit contributions they earn.

Under the CBA, Defendants were obligated to remit contributions and deductions to the Rochester Funds, and the monies were to be remitted on behalf of hours worked by laborer employees in the nine counties covered by Local No. 435's jurisdiction. If the employees were members of a union other than Local No. 435, the Rochester Funds would send the contributions to the employee benefit plans associated with that other union. In this case, a ...


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