United States District Court, S.D. New York
TRUSTEES OF THE NEW YORK CITY DISTRICT COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS PENSION FUND, et al., Petitioners,
MDH FLOOR COVERING, LLC, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER
G. SCHOFIELD, District Judge
Trustees of the New York City District Council of Carpenters
Pension Fund, Welfare Fund, Annuity Fund, and 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 (“the Funds”) and
New York City District Council of Carpenters petition for
confirmation of a favorable arbitration award issued August
23, 2016 (the “Award”), along with attorneys'
fees and costs. Respondent MDH Floor Covering, LLC
(“MDH”) does not oppose the petition. For the
following reasons, the petition is granted.
following uncontested facts are taken from the Award,
evidence submitted to the arbitrator and evidence submitted
in support of the petition.
to a collective bargaining agreement, MDH agreed to make
benefit funds contributions to the Funds. MDH also agreed to
make its books and payroll records available to the Funds to
ensure compliance with the contribution requirements. In the
event of employer contribution delinquencies, the agreement
provides that the Funds may elect to file a lawsuit or pursue
arbitration to collect any monies owed to them. The agreement
further provides that if the Funds successfully obtain a
judgment in a court of competent jurisdiction, MDH is
responsible for paying the amount of any unpaid
contributions, interest on the contributions and reasonable
attorneys' fees and costs. If the Funds instead opt for
arbitration, the agreement empowers the arbitrator to
“decide any and all issues raised by [a party's]
submission and to fashion an appropriate remedy, ”
including awarding monetary damages and interest on the
to an audit of MDH contribution records, MDH failed to make
required benefit contributions to the Funds for the period
between July 1, 2013, and December 28, 2014. On or about
November 6, 2015, the Funds notified MDH of their intent to
pursue arbitration as a result of the delinquent
contributions. Subsequently, the Funds undertook another
review of MDH contribution records, and determined that MDH
also failed to make required contributions for the period
between December 29, 2014, and December 31, 2015.
about July 13, 2016, independent arbitrator Roger Maher
notified MDH that a hearing would be held on August 10, 2016.
On August 10, 2016, the arbitration hearing was held. No
representative of MDH appeared or otherwise contacted the
arbitrator. Because MDH had notice of the hearing, the
arbitrator conducted the arbitration as a default hearing.
Petitioners entered evidence into the record, including
testimony by the auditor employed by the Funds, which
established that MDH was delinquent in its payments for the
periods July 1, 2013, through December 28, 2014, and December
29, 2014, through December 31, 2015. On August 23, 2016, the
arbitrator issued the Award in favor of Petitioners, finding
that MDH owes the Funds $35, 953.15, plus interest to accrue
at a rate of 5.5% from the date of the Award. The arbitrator
based his decision on the testimony of the auditor and the
summary report of the audit, among other evidence.
January 19, 2017, Petitioners commenced this case to confirm
and enforce the Award pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor
Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 185, Section 502(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 1132(a)(3), and/or Section 9 of the Federal
Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 9. On January 25, 2017,
Petitioners served MDH with a Court Order setting an initial
conference date, along with the Court's Individual Rules.
On January 30, 2017, Petitioners served MDH with a summons,
the petition and a memorandum of law in support of the
petition. MDH did not file a response to Petitioners'
Confirmation of the Award
301 of the LMRA “provides federal courts with
jurisdiction over petitions brought to confirm labor
arbitration awards.” Trs. for the Mason Tenders
Dist. Council Welfare Fund v. Super, LLC, No. 16 Civ.
6387, 2017 WL 2703572, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2017)
(quoting Local 802, Assoc. Musicians v. Parker Meridien
Hotel, 145 F.3d 85, 88 (2d Cir. 1998)).
“[G]enerally a district court should treat an
unanswered . . . petition to confirm unopposed motion for
summary judgment.” D.H. Blair & Co., Inc. v.
Gottdiener, 462 F.3d 95, 110 (2d Cir. 2006).
a summary judgment standard is applied to confirmation
proceedings, a “federal court's review of labor
arbitration awards is narrowly circumscribed and highly
deferential -indeed, among the most deferential in the
law.” Natl Football League Mgmt. Council v. Natl
Football League Players Ass'n, 820 F.3d 527, 532 (2d
Cir. 2016). “As long as the arbitrator is even arguably
construing or applying the contract and acting within the
scope of his authority, that a court is convinced he
committed serious error does not suffice to overturn his
decision.” United Bhd. Carpenters & Joiners of
Am. v. Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC, 804 F.3d 270, 275
(2d Cir. 2015). “It is the arbitrator's
construction of the contract and assessment of the facts that
are dispositive, ‘however good, bad, or
ugly.'” Nat'l Football League, 820
F.3d at 536 (quoting Oxford Health Plans LLC v.
Sutter, 133 S.Ct. 2064, 2071 (2013)). The Award should
be confirmed as long as it “draws its essence from the
collective bargaining agreement and is not merely the
arbitrator's own brand of industrial justice.”
Id. at 537 (citations omitted).
genuine issues of material fact exist in this case.
Petitioners' petition is uncontested, the evidence before
the arbitrator supports the finding that MDH was delinquent
on its benefits contributions in the amount that the
arbitrator determined, and the Award draws its essence from
the collective bargaining agreement, which requires MDH to
make benefits contributions, provides for arbitration where
contributions are not made and empowers the arbitrator to
award monetary damages and interest. See Nat'l
Football League, 820 F.3d at 537; see also Trs. for
the Mason Tenders Dist. Council Welfare Fund v. DCM Grp.,
LLC, No. 13 Civ. 1925, 2017 WL 384690, at *4 (S.D.N.Y.
Jan. 25, 2017) (confirming arbitration award brought under
LMRA § 301 where defendant did not oppose petition and
record supported arbitrator's findings). Consequently,
Petitioners are entitled to confirmation of the Award.