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Trustees of Empire State Carpenters Annuity v. Syracuse Floor Sys., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

December 5, 2014

TRUSTEES OF EMPIRE STATE CARPENTERS ANNUITY, APPRENTICESHIP, LABOR-MANAGEMENT COOPERATION, PENSION, and WELFARE FUNDS, Plaintiffs,
v.
SYRACUSE FLOOR SYSTEMS, INC., SYRACUSE COMMERCIAL FLOOR, INC., and COMMERCIAL FLOOR SOLUTIONS, INC., Defendants

For Trustees of Empire State Carpenters Annuity, Apprenticeship, Labor-Management Cooperation, Pension and Welfare Funds, Plaintiff: Charles R. Virginia, LEAD ATTORNEY, Nathan V. Bishop, Virginia & Ambinder LLP, New York, NY.

For Syracuse Floor Systems, Inc., Defendant: Netanel Newberger, Milman Labuda Law Group PLLC, Lake Success, NY.

For Syracuse Commercial Floors, Inc., Defendant: Michael Davis Hoenig, LEAD ATTORNEY, Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP, Rochester, NY; Netanel Newberger, Milman Labuda Law Group PLLC, Lake Success, NY.

For Commercial Floor Solutions, Inc., Defendant: Robert Barnes Calihan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Calihan Law PLLC, Rochester, NY; Netanel Newberger, Milman Labuda Law Group PLLC, Lake Success, NY.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

ARLENE R. LINDSAY, United States Magistrate Judge.

This is an action commenced by trustees of a group of employee benefit plans seeking to collect delinquent employer contributions. Before the Court, on referral from District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein, is the motion by defendant Syracuse Floor Systems, Inc. (" Syracuse Floor") to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule Civil Procedure (" Rule") 12(b)(6) and compel arbitration. For the reasons that follow, the undesigned respectfully recommends that the motion be denied.

BACKGROUND

I. The Complaint

Trustees of the Empire State Carpenters Annuity, Apprenticeship, Labor Management Cooperation, Pension and Welfare Funds (collectively, " Plaintiffs") commenced this action against defendants Syracuse Floor, Syracuse Commercial Floor, Inc. (" SCF") and Commercial Floor Solutions, Inc. (" CFS") (collectively, " Defendants") alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (" ERISA"), as amended, 29 U.S.C. § § 1132(a)(3) and 1145, and § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 185. Plaintiffs allege that the Defendant employers have not fulfilled their statutory and contractual obligations to pay required fringe benefit contributions to the plaintiff funds and have failed to submit to an audit. Compl. ¶ ¶ 14-15. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that from January 2009 through the present, Syracuse Floor " has been a party to, or manifested an intention to be bound by, collective bargaining agreements (" CBAs") with the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters f/k/a the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters, " that the CBAs " require Syracuse Floor to make specified hourly contributions to the Funds, " and that " [a]s a result of work performed by Syracuse Floor, pursuant to the CBAs, there became due and owing to the Funds from Syracuse Floor benefit contributions." Id. ¶ ¶ 9-10, 36. The complaint further alleges that all three defendants constitute a single employer or are alter egos of each other and, therefore, SCF and CFS are bound by the collective bargaining agreement to which Syracuse Floor is a signatory. Id. ¶ 18. The Complaint seeks an order holding Defendants jointly and severally liable for unpaid contributions in amount to be determined by a court-ordered audit for the period January 2009 through the present. Id. ¶ ¶ 33, 40, 45.

II. The Prior Motion to Dismiss

In August 2013, defendants Syracuse Floor and CFS moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). By Order dated February 20, 2014, Judge Feuerstein terminated the motions without prejudice to renew. DE 39. In addressing Syracuse Floor's argument that the complaint violated ERISA's " written instrument" requirement, Judge Feuerstein found as follows:

[W]hile the Court recognizes that a breach of contract claim merely requires an allegation that an agreement exists and, that during the discovery process, a defendant is entitled to a copy of the contract at issue, it would be a considerable waste of judicial resources to allow this case to proceed to discovery if, in fact, there is no written instrument as required by ERISA. For instance, none of the defendants would be liable to the trustees if no written agreement between plaintiffs and [Syracuse Floor] exists. . . . Consequently, plaintiffs are hereby directed to provide a copy of the CBA between plaintiffs and [Syracuse Floor] to the Court and defendants upon receipt of this Order.

Id. at 4-5. Accordingly, the motions to dismiss were terminated without prejudice to renew until after the Court received the alleged CBA between plaintiffs and Syracuse Floor. Id. at 5. The Court's review of the docket sheet in this case reveals ...


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