United States District Court, S.D. New York
TRUSTEES OF THE NEW YORK CITY DISTRICT COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS PENSION FUND, WELFARE FUND, ANNUITY FUND, and APPRENTICESHIP, JOURNEYMAN RETRAINING, EDUCATIONAL AND INDUSTRY FUND, et al., Petitioners,
M.C.F. ASSOCIATES., Respondent.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
G. KOELTL, DISTRICT JUDGE
petitioners, the Trustees of the New York City District
Council of Carpenters Pension Fund, Welfare Fund, Annuity
Fund, and Apprenticeship, Journeyman Retraining, Educational
and Industry Funds (the “ERISA Funds”), the
Trustees of the New York City Carpenters Relief and Charity
Fund (the “Charity Fund”), the New York City and
Vicinity Carpenters Labor Management Corporation (the
“Corporation”), and the New York City District
Council of Carpenters (the “Union”) petition to
confirm an arbitration award pursuant to section 301 of the
Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (“LMRA”),
as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 185, and move the Court to award
reasonable attorney's fees and costs as well as
post-judgment interest on the Award. The ERISA Funds trustees
are trustees of multiemployer labor management trust funds
operated in accordance with the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), as amended, 29
U.S.C. §§ 1001, et seq., and the trustees
are fiduciaries of the ERISA Funds within the meaning of
Section 3(21) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(21). The
Charity Fund trustees are trustees of a charitable
organization established under Section 501(c)(3) of the
Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3). The
Corporation is a New York not-for-profit corporation. The
Union is a labor union that represents employees in an
industry affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 501
of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C § 142. The Union is the certified
bargaining representative for certain employees of the
respondent, M.C.F. Associates, Inc. (“M.C.F.”),
which is a domestic business corporation incorporated under
the laws of New York, and was, at relevant times, an employer
within the meaning of Section (3)5 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §
1002(5), and an employer in an industry affecting commerce
within the meaning of Section 501 of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C.
§ 142. The respondent has not opposed the petition.
following uncontested facts are taken from the petition and
documents submitted in support of the petition.
relevant times, M.C.F. was party to an agreement with the
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners that became
effective on November 4, 1996. Pet. ¶ 9; Pet. Ex. A, at
2. The agreement renewed automatically every three years
unless written notice to terminate was given by either party
between 60 and 90 days prior to the expiration date. Pet. Ex.
A, at 2. Neither party ever exercised its right of
termination. Pet. ¶ 12. The agreement specifies, in
pertinent part, that “[p]ayment of pension and/or
health and welfare contributions for an employee's work
in each locality shall be made to such funds and in such
amounts as are identified in the applicable collective
bargaining agreement . . . .” Pet. ¶ 10; Pet. Ex.
A, at 1. The applicable collective bargaining agreement (the
“CBA”) requires M.C.F. to make contributions to
the Funds for all work within the trade and geographic
jurisdiction of the Union. Pet. ¶ 13; Pet. Ex. B, Art.
XV, § 1. The CBA further requires M.C.F. to furnish
books and payroll records when requested by the Funds for the
purposes of ensuring compliance with the fund contribution
requirements and the CBA bound employers to the rules and
policies adopted by the Funds. Pet. ¶¶ 14-15; Pet.
Ex. B., Art. XV, §§ 1-2.
provides that in the event “any dispute or disagreement
arise between the parties hereto, concerning any claim
arising from payments to the Fund of principal and/or
interest which is allegedly due, either party may seek
arbitration of the dispute before the impartial arbitrator
designated hereunder[.]” Pet. ¶ 16; Pet. Ex. B,
Art. XV, § 7. The CBA further provides that “[i]n
the event that proceedings are instituted before an
arbitrator . . . to collect delinquent contributions to
Benefit Fund or Funds, and if such arbitrator renders an
award in favor of such Fund(s), the arbitrator shall be
empowered to award such interest, liquidated damages, and/or
costs as may be applicable under this Agreement and
Declaration of Trust establishing such fund.” Pet.
¶ 17; Pet. Ex. B, Art. XV, § 7. Finally, the CBA
provides that, in the event of arbitration over unpaid
contributions, the Funds may also collect the interest on the
unpaid contributions at the prime rate of Citibank plus 2%,
liquidated damages in the amount of 20% of unpaid
contributions, and reasonable costs and attorneys' fees
incurred by the Funds in collecting the delinquencies. Pet.
¶ 18; Pet. Ex. B, Art. XV, § 6.
audit covering the period January 1, 2011 to September 26,
2017 revealed that M.C.F. failed to remit all required
contributions to the Funds. Pet. ¶ 19. Pursuant to the
arbitration clauses in the CBA, the petitioners initiated
arbitration proceedings before the designated arbitrator,
Roger E. Maher, to resolve the dispute over the unpaid
contributions. Pet. ¶¶ 16-18, 20.
award dated May 28, 2019, the arbitrator found that M.C.F.
violated the CBA when it failed to remit delinquent
contributions to the funds and ordered M.C.F. to pay the
Funds the sum of $48, 277.36, consisting of: (1) the
principal deficiency contained in the audit of $24, 880.40;
(2) interest on the deficiency of $7, 717.14; (3) liquidated
damages of $7, 968.36; (4) late payment interest of $123.67;
(5) promotional fund contributions of $60.80; (6) non-audit
late payment interest of $90.74; (7) court costs of $400.00;
(8) attorneys' fees of $1, 500.00; (9) the
arbitrator's fee of $500.00; and (10) audit costs of $5,
036.25. Pet. ¶¶ 21-22; Pet. Ex. D., at 3. The
arbitrator also found that interest at the rate of 7.5% would
accrue on the Award from the date of its issuance. Pet.
¶ 23; Pet. Ex. D, at 3. As of the date of this petition,
M.C.F. had failed to pay any part of the Award. Pet. ¶
August 20, 2019, the petitioners timely filed this petition
to confirm the arbitration award. In addition to confirmation
of the arbitration award and judgment in the amount of the
original Award plus 7.5% interest from the date of the Award
to the date of judgment, the petitioners also seek $1, 030.00
in attorneys' fees and $75.00 in costs arising from the
petition and post-judgment interest at the statutory rate.
Pet. ¶ 34.
district court's role in reviewing an arbitration award
is extremely limited. See United Paperworkers Int'l
Union, AFL- CIO v. Misco, Inc., 484 U.S. 29 (1987);
United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car
Corp., 363 U.S. 593 (1960). The Supreme Court has
explained that district courts “are not authorized to
reconsider the merits of an award even though the parties may
allege that the award rests on errors of fact or on
misinterpretation of the contract.” Misco, 484
U.S. at 36. The Court instructed that “[a]s long as the
arbitrator's award ‘draws its essence from the
collective bargaining agreement,' and is not merely
‘his own brand of industrial justice,' the award is
legitimate.” Id. (quoting United
Steelworkers, 363 U.S. at 597). Accordingly, an
arbitration award is to be confirmed if there is even a
“barely colorable justification” for the
decision. U.S. Steel and Carnegie Pension Fund v.
Dickinson, 753 F.2d 250, 252 (2d Cir. 1985); see
also Trustees of New York City Dist. Council of Carpenters
Pension Fund v. Stop & Work Constr., Inc., No.
17-cv-5693, 2018 WL 324267, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 5, 2018).
being served with the petitioners' petition, M.C.F. has
not responded. After M.C.F.'s original time to oppose the
petition had lapsed, the Court extended M.C.F.'s time to
respond until November 8, 2019. Dkt. No. 10. The Court stated
that if M.C.F. did not respond by that date, the Court would
decide the petition based on the papers that had been
submitted by the petitioner. Id.
these situations, however, the Second Circuit Court of
Appeals has explained that a default judgment is
inappropriate in a proceeding to confirm or vacate an
arbitration award because “[a] motion to confirm or
vacate an [arbitration] award is generally accompanied by a
record, such as an agreement to arbitrate and the arbitration
award decision itself. . . . [T]he petition and accompanying
record should [be] treated as akin to a motion for summary
judgment based on the movant's submissions.”
D.H. Blair & Co. v. Gottdiener, 462 F.3d 95, 109
(2d Cir. 2006).
standard for granting summary judgment is well established.
“The [C]ourt shall grant summary judgment if the movant
shows 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); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Darnell v.
Pineiro, 849 F.3d 17, 22 (2d Cir. 2017). The substantive
law governing the case will identify those facts that are
material and “[o]nly disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the ...