The opinion of the court was delivered by: ELAINE E. BUCKLO
Plaintiffs, Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund, and its trustee, Howard McDougall (collectively "the Fund"), have brought this action against defendant, Dussault Moving, Inc. ("Dussault"), under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA") for employer contributions allegedly owed to the Fund. Before this Court is plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56. For the reasons stated herein, plaintiffs' motion is granted in part and denied in part.
The Fund billed Dussault for contributions on behalf of covered employees from June, 1988 through December, 1992. Dussault paid the corresponding monthly contributions through November, 1992. Each of the bills contained a certification clause, in which Dussault reaffirmed its obligation to make contributions required by the collective bargaining agreement. On March 23, 1993, Dussault informed the Fund that the only employee on whose behalf it had been paying contributions had left covered employment on December 27, 1992. As a consequence, the Fund's monthly billing ceased. However, in late 1993 and 1994, the Fund audited Dussault's records for the period of January 1, 1989 through August 23, 1993. The audit revealed that Dussault had failed to accurately report employee work history and pay all contributions owed to the Fund. On June 22, 1993, the Fund brought this action against Dussault seeking to recover employer contributions allegedly owed. On November 3, 1994, the case was reassigned to this Court. The Fund now moves for summary judgment pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56.
The Court must first determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact as to the precise date upon which Dussault's duty to contribute to the Fund expired. With respect to duration, the collective bargaining agreement provides that it
shall go into effect on June 3, 1988 and remain in full force and effect until June 2, 1991 and thereafter from year to year unless notice to terminate is given by either party, at least sixty (60) days prior to its expiration.
Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article XXVII, at p. 17. The parties disagree as to when the collective bargaining agreement effectively terminated. The Fund argues that because it did not receive notice of termination until December, 1992, the notice became effective on June 2, 1993, since the agreement continued from year to year after June 1, 1992. Dussault insists that the agreement expired on June 2, 1991 because Local 293 failed to ask Dussault to be a signatory to a successor collective bargaining agreement after the "demise" of Local 392. Dussault argues that this was "more than sufficient notice that Local 293 no longer wanted a collective bargaining relationship with Dussault." As the following discussion illustrates, the Court need not resolve this question to ascertain the date upon which Dussault's duty to contribute terminated.
Dussault and Local 392 in 1980 entered into a participation agreement which expressly required Dussault to remit contributions to the Fund. This agreement created a written duty to contribute which endured even if the collective bargaining agreement terminated. See Central States Pension Fund v. Behnke, Inc., 883 F.2d 454, 461 (6th Cir. 1989). The Fund is a third-party beneficiary of the participation agreement and therefore has standing to bring an action to recover delinquent contributions thereunder. Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. RD Motor Express, Inc., 1988 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10052, No. 85 C 7740, 1988 WL 93936, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 2, 1988) (citing Southwest Administrators, Inc. v. Rozay's Transfer, 791 F.2d 769 (9th Cir. 1986) and J. CALAMARI & J. PERILLO, THE LAW OF CONTRACTS § 17-8, at 623-24 (2nd ed. 1977)).
With respect to duration, the participation agreement provides that it
Participation Agreement, P 7. The language of this provision is clear: Dussault can terminate its obligation to make contributions to the Fund when it ceases to be under such a duty, so long as Dussault gives the Fund written notice in which it states the basis upon which it relies in terminating its obligation. Dussault does not contest the fact ...