The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRY LEINENWEBER, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas
Pension Fund, a multi-employer benefit plan and trust, and Howard
McDougall, a Central States trustee, (hereinafter, collectively
"Central States") bring this ERISA action to recover delinquent
contributions allegedly owed by Defendant Pneumatic Trucking,
Inc. (hereinafter, "Pneumatic"), an employer. Central States
claims Pneumatic owes contributions for the period of June 1,
2003 through July 31, 2004 pursuant to a collective bargaining
agreement and a participation agreement. Before the Court are
both parties' Motions for Summary Judgment. For the following
reasons, Central States' Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED
in part and Pneumatic's Motion is DENIED.
Central States is an employee benefit plan and trust financed
by contributions paid by multiple participating employers
pursuant to collective bargaining agreements with local International
Brotherhood of Teamsters ("IBT") unions. (Stip. Facts ¶¶ 1-2).
Central States holds and invests contributions to provide
benefits to plan participants and beneficiaries. See id. ¶ 2.
Pneumatic is an employer who made contributions to the Central
On or about June 19, 2000, Pneumatic and Teamsters Local 406
entered into a collective bargaining agreement covering the
period from November 29, 1999 through July 31, 2004 (the "CBA").
See id. ¶ 7. The CBA required that Pneumatic make weekly
contributions to Central States on behalf of its bargaining unit
employees. (Pls. SOF ¶ 8). Pneumatic and Local 406 also entered
into a participation agreement with an effective date of November
29, 1999 (the "PA"), which set forth the terms and conditions for
Pneumatic's participation in the pension fund. (Stip. Facts ¶ 5).
Under the PA and the CBA, Pneumatic was bound by the Central
States Trust Agreement, the Central States Pension Plan, and all
rules and regulations adopted by the Trustees of the Pension
Fund. (Pls. SOF ¶¶ 16-17).
Pneumatic claims that in January 2001, it agreed with Local 406
to amend the CBA such that Pneumatic would be obligated to
contribute to a 401(k) plan instead of contributing to Central
States. (Def. SOF ¶ 9). In 2002, the IBT transferred the
bargaining rights from Local 406 to Local 164. (Stip. Facts ¶
11). Although Central States denies that an agreement existed
between Pneumatic and Local 406 after the January meeting, both parties
agree that the proposed amendment was not reduced to writing and
signed by the parties until after the IBTs transferred
administration of Pneumatic's collective bargaining agreement to
Teamsters Local 164. (D. SOF ¶ 10). A facsimile sent by Thomas
Freyling, an employee of Local 406, containing proposed language
for the amendment was sent prior to the time when the parties
executed a written agreement.
The parties exchanged various items of correspondence in 2003,
including a letter on October 22, 2003 from a Pneumatic attorney
to Central States' manager of collections. The letter also copied
Central States' Contracts Department and was sent by certified
mail. In the letter, Pneumatic claims that it had not been
obligated to contribute to Central States since May 11, 2003.
(Oct. 22 letter, Ex. P). The letter also indicates that Pneumatic
is no longer obligated to contribute due to an agreement with
Local 406. See id. Pneumatic enclosed an unsigned copy of sample
language for the proposed amendment sent by Local 406 employee
Freyling with the letter.
Beginning about January 11, 2003, Pneumatic requested that
Local Union 164 enter into a written amendment of the CBA to
provide for a 401(k) plan rather than contributions to Central
States. (Stip. Facts ¶ 13). Local 164 did not comply with this
request. See id. Pneumatic filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB against Local 164. See id. ¶ 12. The parties
eventually agreed to settle the case, and in December 2003, Local
164 entered into a settlement agreement with Pneumatic. See id.,
Ex. H. Under the settlement agreement, Local 164 agreed to sign
the contract amendment proposed by Pneumatic, provided that it
was approved by a majority of the bargaining unit. See id., Ex.
I-J. A majority of the bargaining unit approved Pneumatic's
proposal on January 31, 2004. See id. ¶ 17. On May 5, 2004, Local
164 executed the amendment requiring Pneumatic to switch from
contributions to Central States to the 401(k) plan, which
purports to be effective on June 1, 2003 (the "Amendment").
See id. Central States did not participate in the NLRB proceeding or
the NLRB settlement and did not sign or participate in the
negotiation of the Amendment. (Priede Aff. ¶ 27). Pneumatic
asserts that a copy of the Amendment was received by Central
States' Contracts Department on July 16, 2004. (Pls. SOF ¶ 55).
Central States conversely claims that it did not receive a signed
copy of the Amendment until August 11, 2004. (Pls. ASOF ¶ 76).
Pneumatic ceased making contributions to Central States on June
1, 2003. See id. ¶ 75. Pneumatic also stopped making
contributions to the § 401(k) plan for the period prior to July
31, 2004. See id. ¶ 77. II. LEGAL STANDARD
Central States bring this Motion under Section 515 of ERISA, as
amended, 29 U.S.C. § 1145. Section 515 of ERISA provides that:
Every employer who is obligated to make contributions
to a multi-employer plan under the terms of the plan
or under the terms of a collectively bargained
agreement shall, to the extent not inconsistent with
law, make such contributions in accordance with the
terms and conditions of such plan or agreement.
29 U.S.C. § 1145 (1994). Section 515 gives pension funds, the
right to "enforce the writings according to their terms." Central
States, Southeast & Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Gerber Truck
Serv., Inc., 870 F.2d 1148
, 1149 (7th Cir. 1989) (en banc)
("Gerber"). There is no dispute that Central States is a
multi-employer plan and that Pneumatic is an employer within the
meaning of the statute. (Stipulation of Facts ¶¶ 2, 4).
Therefore, the Court must look to the language of the agreements
at issue to determine the extent of Pneumatic's contributions
A successful fund under Section 515 may receive various forms
of relief. Section 502(g)(2) of ERISA provides:
(2) In any action under this subchapter by a
fiduciary for or on behalf of a plan to enforce
section 1145 of this title in which a judgment in
favor of the plan is awarded, the court shall award
(a) the unpaid contributions;
(b) interest on the unpaid contributions;
(c) an amount equal to the greater of
(i) interest on the unpaid contributions, or (ii) liquidated damages provided for under the plan
in an amount not in excess of 20 percent . . .;
(d) reasonable attorney's fees and costs . . .; and
(e) such other legal or equitable relief as the court
. . . interest on unpaid contributions shall be
determined by using the rate provided under the plan,
or, if none, the rate prescribed under . . . Title
29 U.S.C. 1132 (g) (2).