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Upstate New York Engineers Health Fund v. Oneida View Pile Driving, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 25, 2017

UPSTATE NEW YORK ENGINEERS HEALTH FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ONEIDA VIEW PILE DRIVING, INC., et al., Defendants.

          AMENDED DECISION AND ORDER

          Lawrence E. Kahn U.S. District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This Amended Decision and Order is issued pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(a) to correct a clerical error in the Court's Decision and Order dated January 30, 2017. Dkt. No. 22.[1]

         On April 28, 2015, Plaintiffs Upstate New York Engineers Health Fund, Upstate New York Engineers Pension Fund, Upstate Engineers S.U.B. Fund, Upstate New York Engineers Training Fund, Local 106 Training and Apprenticeship Fund, Central Pension Fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers and Participating Employers (collectively, the “Funds”), and Upstate New York Operating Engineers, Local 158 (the “Union”) filed this action to recover contributions, deductions, interest, liquidated damages, audit fees, and attorneys' fees and costs under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., and the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185. Dkt. No. 1 (“Complaint”). Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' second motion for default judgment. Dkt. Nos. 20 (“Second Default Motion”), 20-1 (“Memorandum”). For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' Second Default Motion is granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Defendant Oneidaview Pile Driving is a New York corporation, and defendant Stanfield is an officer and shareholder of Oneidaview. Compl. ¶¶ 15-16. This action was brought by fiduciaries of employee benefit plans alleging that Oneidaview did not pay contributions or deductions to Plaintiffs as required under the terms of three collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”). Id. ¶¶ 24-25, 30. Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on April 25, 2015, and Defendants did not answer or otherwise move with respect to the Complaint. On June 2, 2015, Plaintiffs requested entry of default as to all Defendants, Dkt. No. 7, which the Clerk of the Court granted on June 3, 2015, Dkt. No. 9. Plaintiffs then moved for a default judgment under to Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Dkt. No. 17 (“First Default Motion”). The Court denied the First Default Motion because Plaintiffs' calculation of prejudgment interest was incomprehensible, but the Court granted leave to refile the motion. Dkt. No. 19 (“September Order”). Plaintiffs have since timely filed the Second Default Motion. Defendants have not opposed the Second Default Motion or otherwise appeared in this action.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         After the clerk has filed an entry of default against a party that has failed to plead or otherwise defend, a court may enter default judgment upon application of the opposing party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). Default judgment is an extreme sanction, and decisions on the merits are favored. Meehan v. Snow, 652 F.2d 274, 277 (2d Cir. 1981). However, default judgment is ordinarily justified when a party fails to respond after having received proper notice. Bermudez v. Reid, 733 F.2d 18, 21 (2d Cir. 1984). After a default is entered, all of the well-pleaded allegations in a complaint pertaining to liability are deemed true. See Transatlantic Marine Claims Agency, Inc. v. Ace Shipping Corp., 109 F.3d 105, 108 (2d Cir. 1997) (recognizing that the factual allegations in the complaint, except those relating to damages, are deemed true after default).

         However, a court cannot take allegations in a complaint regarding damages as true. Credit Lyonnais Sec. (USA), Inc. v. Alcantara, 183 F.3d 151, 154-55 (2d Cir. 1999). After establishing liability, a court must ascertain the amount of damages with reasonable certainty. Transatlantic, 109 F.3d at 111. To determine the amount of damages in the context of a default judgment, “the court may conduct such hearings or order such references as it deems necessary and proper.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). However, “it [is] not necessary for the District Court to hold a hearing, as long as it ensured that there [is] a basis for the damages specified in the default judgment.” Fustok v. ContiCommodity Servs., Inc., 873 F.2d 38, 40 (2d Cir. 1989); see also Action S.A. v. Marc Rich & Co., Inc., 951 F.2d 504, 508 (2d Cir. 1991) (finding a full evidentiary hearing unnecessary where the district judge was “inundated with affidavits, evidence, and oral presentations”).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Defendants have failed to appear in this action or to answer Plaintiffs' Complaint, despite having been duly served. Dkt. Nos. 4, 5, 6. Because Defendants have failed to appear, and because the Clerk has made an entry of default, all relevant and well-pleaded factual allegations in Plaintiffs' Complaint are presumed to be accurate.

         Under ERISA, employers that are obligated to make contributions to multiemployer benefit plans must do so under the terms of such plans. 29 U.S.C. § 1145. Here, Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that Oneidaview is an employer required to make contributions to the employee benefit plans under the CBAs, and that it has failed to do so. Compl. ¶¶ 25-26, 30. Under the CBAs, Oneidaview was also required to deduct stipulated amounts from employees' wages and pay those deductions to the Union. Id. ¶ 26. If an employer fails to make the required contributions and deductions, ERISA provides for statutory damages as follows:

(A) the unpaid contributions,
(B) interest on the unpaid contributions,
(C) an amount equal to the greater of -
(i) interest on the unpaid ...

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