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Laborers' Pension Fund v. Midwest Rem Enterprises

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION


November 15, 2007

LABORERS' PENSION FUND AND LABORERS' WELFARE FUND OF THE HEALTH AND WELFARE DEPARTMENT OF THE CONSTRUCTION AND GENERAL LABORERS' DISTRICT COUNCIL OF CHICAGO AND VICINITY, AND JAMES S. JORGENSEN, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE FUNDS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MIDWEST REM ENTERPRISES, INC., DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Marvin E. Aspen

MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION

Plaintiffs Laborers' Pension Fund, Laborers' Welfare Fund of the Health and Welfare Department of the Construction, General Laborers' District Council of Chicago and Vicinity (collectively "the Funds") and James S. Jorgenson, Administrator of the Funds filed a two-count complaint against Defendant Midwest Rem Enterprises, Inc. ("MRE"). The complaint alleges violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(g)(1) -(2), 1145, and the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185. Presently before us is Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, we grant this motion.

SUMMARY OF THE FACTS*fn1

On November 4, 1998 MRE signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") with Laborer's Local Union No. 76, which was renewed on November 13, 2001. (Pl. Facts ¶ 6). Pursuant to the CBA, MRE was required to submit contributions to the Funds on behalf of the laborers that it employed as well as contribution reports by the tenth day of the month after the work was performed. (Pl. Facts ¶ 7). In the event that MRE did not timely submit these contributions and reports, MRE would be liable for liquidated damages, interest, and any reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred in the collection process. (Pl. Facts ¶¶ 7-8).

The CBA also required MRE to submit to periodic audits, and MRE's books were audited for the period beginning January 1, 2003 and ending December 31, 2005. (Pl. Facts ¶ 9). This audit revealed that MRE failed to make multiple contributions to the Fund for 850.92 laborer hours worked,*fn2 and was deficient on its union dues through December 2005. (Pl. Facts ¶¶ 14-16, 17-22). The cost of performing this audit was $3,000.*fn3 (Pl. Facts ¶ 26).

On May 23, 2007 Plaintiffs filed their complaint alleging violations of ERISA and LMRA. Plaintiffs are seeking $22,217.39, which includes outstanding contributions,*fn4 union dues, the ten percent penalty prescribed in the CBA for all overdue contributions, interest on overdue contributions,*fn5 and audit costs. (Pl. Facts ¶¶ 25-28). They are also seeking $14,029.80 in attorney's fees.*fn6 (Pl. Facts ¶ 29).

On September 19, 2007 Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Summary Judgment and Statement of Material Facts. We ordered MRE to respond by October 4, 2007. No response was filed with this Court. However, MRE apparently mailed its response to Plaintiffs on October 11, 2007. On October 15, 2007, Plaintiffs filed their reply and objections to MRE's response, attaching MRE's response to their reply, and on October 30, 2007, MRE filed a two-page "Answer to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment" without any additional evidence.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is proper when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56. A genuine issue for trial exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). 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 the 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 (1986) (internal quotations omitted).

Once the moving party meets this burden of production, the nonmoving party "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading," but rather "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue [of material fact] for trial." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e).

ANALYSIS

ERISA mandates that "[e]very employer who is obligated to make contributions to a multiemployer 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 such agreement." 29 U.S.C. § 1145 (2007). If an employer fails to satisfy this section, then "the court shall award the plan (A) unpaid contributions, (B) interest on unpaid contributions, (C) . . . liquidated damages provided for in the plan, . . . (D) reasonable attorney's fees and costs of the action, to be paid by the defendant, and (E) any other legal or equitable relief that the court deems appropriate." Id. § 1132(g)(2).

In this case, MRE admits that its contributions to the Fund are governed by the CBA and that it failed to timely contribute to the Funds according to the CBA. Because there are no material facts at issue with respect to Plaintiffs' ERISA claim, Plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment. Additionally, because MRE's failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1 causes us to accept all of Plaintiffs' supported material facts as true, there is no dispute of material fact regarding the specific amount that MRE owes under Section 1132(g)(2). Thus, Plaintiffs are entitled to $22,217.39, which includes unpaid contributions, liquidated damages, interest, and audit costs. (Pl. Facts ¶ 28). They are also entitled to $14,029.80 in attorney's fees.*fn7

CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, we grant Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. It is so ordered.

Honorable Marvin E. Aspen U.S. District Court Judge


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