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Trustees of The New York City District Council of Carpenters Pension Fund v. Metropolitan Fine Mill Work Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 12, 2015

TRUSTEES OF THE NEW YORK CITY DISTRICT COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS PENSION FUND, WELFARE FUND, ANNUITY FUND, APPRENTICESHIP, JOURNEYMAN RETRAINING, EDUCATIONAL AND INDUSTRY FUND; TRUSTEES OF THE NEW YORK CITY CARPENTERS RELIEF AND CHARITY FUND; THE NEW YORK CITY AND VICINITY CARPENTERS LABOR-MANAGEMENT CORPORATION; and NEW YORK CITY DISTRICT COUNCIL CARPENTERS, Plaintiffs,
v.
METROPOLITAN FINE MILL WORK CORP., Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

This case arises out of a collective bargaining agreement. Plaintiffs are the Trustees of the New York City District Council of Carpenters Pension Welfare, Annuity, Apprenticeship, Journeyman Retraining and Educational and Industry Funds (the "ERISA Funds"), the Trustees of the New York City Carpenters Relief and Charity Fund (the "Charity Fund"; together with the ERISA Funds, the "Funds"), the New York City and Vicinity Carpenters Labor-Management Corp. (the "not-for-profit corporation"), and the New York City District Council Carpenters (the "Union"). Defendant Metropolitan Fine Millwork Corp. ("Metropolitan") is an employer who is a signatory of the collective bargaining agreement with the Union.

In this action, plaintiffs seek - under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185; Section 502(e)(1) of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(1); and Section 9 of the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. § 9 - to confirm an arbitration award in their favor. Plaintiffs now move for summary judgment. Metropolitan, despite being properly served, has not appeared. For the reasons that follow, the Court, based on its review of plaintiffs' submissions, grants both that motion and plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees and costs incurred in bringing this action.

I. Background[1]

A. The Collective Bargaining Agreements

Metropolitan is a signatory to a collective bargaining agreement (the "UBC CBA") with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. See Epstein Decl., Ex. A; id., Ex. B. Under the UBC CBA and the collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the Association of Wall-Ceiling & Carpentry Industries of New York, Inc. (the "Local CBA"), Metropolitan was required to pay certain contributions to funds, including the Funds in this case, on behalf of all covered employees. Id., Ex. B, at 2; id., Ex. C, at 41. To assure that the requisite payments were made, the Local CBA required Metropolitan to make available to plaintiffs its books and payroll records, including cash disbursement records, so as to enable an audit. Id., Ex. C, at 41-42.

Under the UBC CBA, "[a]ny dispute relating to [the UBC CBA] may be prosecuted in accordance with the grievance/arbitration procedure of the member's home area local union Master Labor Agreement, or the work area local union Master Labor Agreement, and [Metropolitan] agrees to be bound by those procedures." Id., Ex. B, at 4. The Local CBA, in turn, provides for a permanent contract arbitrator to conduct a hearing and render a decision based on the testimony before the arbitrator at such a hearing. Id., Ex. C, at 38.

As to confirming the arbitral award, the Local CBA provides that:

The decision of the arbitrator shall be final and binding upon both parties and may be entered as a final decree or judgment in the Supreme Court of the State of New York or in a court of appropriate jurisdiction in any state where such decision shall be rendered.

Id. at 38-39.

B. The Arbitration Proceeding and Decision

Between July 3, 2007 and January 31, 2014, Metropolitan failed to permit the Funds' auditors to examine Metropolitan's books and records. Pl. 56.1 ¶ 5. On November 18, 2013, plaintiffs submitted the dispute to arbitration before Roger Maher, a permanent contract arbitrator designated by the Local CBA. Id. ¶¶ 12-13; Epstein Decl., Ex. D, at 1.

On January 24, 2014, Maher presided over a hearing. Id. Plaintiffs' counsel appeared, but Metropolitan failed to appear. Id. Metropolitan also did not request an adjournment or extension of time to appear. Id. at 2. At the hearing, plaintiffs sought an award, which would direct Metropolitan to produce, for an audit, any and all requested books and records from the period between July 3, 2007 and January 31, 2014. Id.

On January 31, 2014, Maher issued an opinion and default award. Id. Maher found that Metropolitan had failed to comply with the Local CBA's requirement that Metropolitan furnish its books and records for an audit. Maher directed Metropolitan to produce forthwith the requested materials. Id. at 4. Maher also directed Metropolitan to pay ...


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