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CHICAGO AREA I.B. v. THOMAS S. ZACCONE WHOLESALE P

January 11, 1995

CHICAGO AREA I.B. of T. HEALTH AND WELFARE TRUST FUND, CHICAGO AREA I.B. of T. PENSION TRUST FUND and CHICAGO AREA I.B. of T. SEVERANCE AND RETIREMENT TRUST FUND, Plaintiffs,
v.
THOMAS S. ZACCONE WHOLESALE PRODUCE, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARVIN E. ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge:

 Plaintiffs Chicago Area International Brotherhood of Teamsters Health and Welfare, Pension, and Severance and Retirement Trust Funds ("the Funds") bring this single count action, alleging that defendant Thomas S. Zaccone Wholesale Produce, Inc. ("Zaccone") failed to contribute certain required amounts to the Funds, in violation of a labor agreement between Zaccone and the Local 703, International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("the Union"). Presently before the court is Zaccone's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.

 I. Background

 In 1988, defendant Zaccone became a member of the Market Service Association ("the MSA"), a multiemployer collective bargaining association. Upon entering the MSA, Zaccone signed an agreement ("the Agreement") with that organization, whereby it agreed to be bound by the collective bargaining agreement then in effect with the Union, which was set to expire on March 31, 1996. The Agreement also provided, in relevant part:

 
This Agreement shall remain in effect and shall be governed by Association agreements entered into from time to time in the future and governing future periods.

 In 1991, the Union and the MSA signed a document amending the collective bargaining agreement. Specifically, it provided a new expiration date of March 31, 1993 for the collective bargaining agreement. In 1993, the MSA and the Union engaged in collective bargaining, and, in April of that year, agreed to extend the amended collective bargaining agreement until May 31, 1993. The collective bargaining proved unsuccessful, and no further extensions of the amended collective bargaining agreement were provided for. Accordingly, following expiration of the amended collective bargaining agreement, Zaccone ceased contributing to the Funds. Plaintiff Funds subsequently filed the present action, claiming that Zaccone violated its obligation to contribute to the Funds under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq.

 II. Summary Judgment Standard

 Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and . . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). This standard places the initial burden on the moving party to identify "those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986) (quoting Rule 56(c)). Once the moving party has done this, the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must read all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); Griffin v. Thomas, 929 F.2d 1210, 1212 (7th Cir. 1991).

 III. Discussion

 Plaintiffs bring the current action pursuant to Section 515 of ERISA, which provides, in relevant part:

 
Every employer who is obligated to make contributions to a multiemployer plan under the terms of the plan or under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement shall, to the extent not inconsistent with law, make such contributions in accordance with the terms and conditions of such plan or such agreement.

 29 U.S.C. § 1145. Plaintiffs' position, however, is largely foreclosed by Laborers Health & Welfare Trust Fund v. Advanced Lightweight Concrete Co., 484 U.S. 539, 98 L. Ed. 2d 936, 108 S. Ct. 830 (1988). There, the employer, Advanced Lightweight Concrete, was obligated to contribute to various employee benefit plans pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement. *fn1" One and one-half months before the agreement was due to expire, Advanced informed the unions that it had terminated the AGC's authority to negotiate on its behalf, and that the company would not be bound by the collective bargaining agreement after its expiration. The employer also informed the unions that it was prepared to negotiate with them independently. True to its word, Advanced ceased contributing to the funds following the expiration of the existing collective bargaining agreement.

 The Funds brought suit, alleging violations of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") and Section 515 of ERISA. The district court granted summary judgment to Advanced, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court. It concluded that Section 515 only required employers to contribute to funds to the extent required by the collective bargaining agreement; following the expiration of the agreement, the employer's obligation to contribute to the funds, at least under ERISA, ceased. Id. at 548-49 ("Both the text and the legislative history of §§ 515 and 502(g)(2) provide firm support for the Court of Appeals' conclusion that this remedy [provided in ERISA] is limited to the collection of 'promised contributions' . . ."). Because Advanced had contributed the required amount to the funds during the period the collective ...


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