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Trustees of New York City District Council of Carpenters Pension Fund v. Paladin Construction Corp.

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 10, 2013

TRUSTEES OF THE NEW YORK CITY DISTRICT COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS PENSION FUND, WELFARE FUND, ANNUITY FUND, APPRENTICESHIP, JOURNEYMAN, RETRAINING, EDUCATIONAL AND INDUSTRY FUND et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PALADIN CONSTRUCTION CORP., Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

This case arises out of a collective bargaining agreement between the parties. Plaintiffs are the Trustees of the New York City District Council of Carpenters Welfare, Annuity, Apprenticeship, Journeyman Retraining and Educational and Industry Fund (the "ERISA Fund"), the Trustees of the New York City District Council of Carpenters Charity Fund (the "Charity Fund"; together with the ERISA Fund, the "Funds"), and the District Council for New York City and Vicinity, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (the "Union"; together with the Funds, "plaintiffs"). Defendant Paladin Construction Corp. ("Paladin") is an employer who is a signatory of the collective bargaining agreement with the Union.

Plaintiffs seek to (1) confirm two arbitration awards in their favor (Claims One and Two); (2) enforce an order of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York (Claim Three); and (3) collect unpaid contributions from Paladin due under the collective bargaining agreement and the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1145 (Claim Four). Plaintiffs now move for summary judgment. Paladin has not opposed their motion. For the reasons that follow, that motion is granted in part.

I. Background[1]

On July 1, 2001, Paladin entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the Union. See Capurso Decl. Ex. A (the "CBA"). The agreement covered all carpentry work within the trade and geographical jurisdiction of the Union. Pl. 56.1 ¶ 7; CBA art. II § 2. By its terms, it was to be effective through June 30, 2006, and thereafter to renew automatically for one-year terms, unless either party sought to modify or amend it. CBA art. XIX; Pl. 56.1 ¶ 12. Paladin has "not provide[d] written notice indicating a desire to negotiate a new contract or modify or amend the CBA." Capurso Decl. ¶ 15.

As part of the CBA, Paladin was required to make regular contribution payments to the Funds, based on the number of hours worked by its employees. CBA art. XV. The CBA sets out specific amounts to be contributed by Paladin to each constituent fund. Id. § 2.

As an enforcement mechanism, the CBA provides for audits by the Union to verify independently that proper contributions have been made. Id. § 1. The CBA further provides that any dispute as to payment of these contributions is to be resolved through an arbitrator; in the agreement, the parties designated four potential impartial arbitrators. Id. § 7. Finally, the CBA includes a provision that awards, in addition to any unpaid contributions, "interest at the prime rate of Citibank plus 2%, " plus "an amount equal to the greater of - (a) the amount of the interest charges on the unpaid contribution as determined in the above, or (b) liquidated damages of 20% of the amount of the unpaid contributions, " plus "reasonable attorney's fees and costs of the action." Id. § 6.

II. Discussion

A. Unopposed Summary Judgment Standard

To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the movant must "show[] that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a question of material fact. In making this determination, the Court must view all facts "in the light most favorable" to the non-moving party. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); see also Holcomb v. Iona Coll., 521 F.3d 130, 132 (2d Cir. 2008). To survive a summary judgment motion, the opposing party must establish a genuine issue of fact by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); see also Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009). Only disputes over "facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law" will preclude a grant of summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In determining whether there are genuine issues of material fact, the Court is "required to resolve all ambiguities and draw all permissible factual inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought." Johnson v. Killian, 680 F.3d 234, 236 (2d Cir. 2012) (citing Terry v. Ashcroft, 336 F.3d 128, 137 (2d Cir. 2003)).

However, "[e]ven when a motion for summary judgment is unopposed, the district court is not relieved of its duty to decide whether the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Vt. Teddy Bear Co. v. 1-800 Beargram Co., 373 F.3d 241, 242 (2d Cir. 2004); Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677, 681 (2d Cir. 2001) ("[W]hen a nonmoving party chooses the perilous path of failing to submit a response to a summary judgment motion, the district court may not grant the motion without first examining the moving party's submission to determine if it has met its burden of demonstrating that no material issue of fact remains for trial....").

B. The Arbitration Award

1. Facts

Pursuant to the CBA, plaintiffs audited Paladin's books for the period between April 3, 2010, and December 28, 2010. This audit established delinquencies. Pl. 56.1 ¶ 13. Paladin refused to pay; plaintiffs sought arbitration. A later audit, for the period between December 29, 2010, and December 27, 2011, uncovered additional delinquencies, for which the plaintiffs also sought arbitration.

Plaintiffs seek to enforce two separate arbitration awards. The first, dated February 3, 2012, found Paladin delinquent in not providing fringe benefit monies due under the CBA. Powers Decl. Ex. D. The arbitrator awarded plaintiffs $16, 346.14, which included interest, liquidated damages, attorneys' fees, and other costs. Id. at 3.

The second, dated May 21, 2012, found additional delinquencies for the following year. Powers Decl. Ex. F. The arbitrator awarded plaintiffs $244, 494.68, which included interest, liquidated ...


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