The opinion of the court was delivered by: David R Herndon Chief Judge United States District Court
Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on May 7, 2009 stating a cause of action for payment of delinquent fringe benefit contributions and late fees from Defendant Waterloo Services, Inc. ("Defendant"), pursuant to § 502(g)(2) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2), and the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185. (Doc. 2).
Defendant was served on May 11, 2009. (Doc. 5). As of the date of this Order, Defendant has not entered its appearance or filed any responsive pleadings. On June 3, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Entry of Default by Clerk. (Doc. 6). The following day, the clerk made an entry of default against Defendant. (Doc. 7). Plaintiffs then filed a Motion for Entry of Default Judgment and supporting memorandum with accompanying affidavits and exhibits. (Docs. 9-10). In an Order dated July 15, 2009, (Doc. 11), the Court denied, without prejudice, Plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of Default Judgment based primarily on a lack of evidentiary support for Plaintiffs' contractual damages claims. Plaintiffs timely filed the instant Motion and a supporting memorandum (Docs. 12-13) addressing the deficiencies the Court found in the first Motion for Default. Plaintiffs seek a default judgment in the total amount of $4,773.38, which includes $3,379.44 in delinquent contributions for the period of September-December 2008, $337.94 in liquidated damages, and $1056.00 in attorneys' fees and court costs.
Plaintiffs consist of several employee benefit funds and their representative fiduciaries, existing on behalf of members of the Operating Engineers Local Union No. 520(the "Union"). (Doc. 2, ¶¶ 1-6). Defendant is an Illinois corporation that allegedly employed Union members. (Doc. 2, ¶ 7). The Union and Defendant are parties to a collective bargaining agreement (the "Agreement"). (Doc. 2, ¶ 8; Doc. 10, p.1; Doc 10-2, Glastetter Affidavit, ¶ 2 and Exhibits 1-2 thereto ). Among other things, the Defendant is, pursuant to the Agreement, allegedly required to (1) pay fringe benefit contributions for each hour of covered Union member work, (2) submit monthly report forms reflecting the hours worked and contributions owed, and (3) pay a 10% liquidated damages charge on all untimely benefit contribution payments. (Doc. 2, ¶ 8-18; Doc. 10, p. 1-2; Doc. 10-2 Glastetter Affidavit, ¶¶ 3-5, Ex. 1 (Articles 34-37, 45 and Schedule A)).
It is alleged that Defendant submitted reports without payment for the months of September, October, November and December, 2008 and that the total amount of the unpaid contributions is $3,379.44. (Doc. 10-2, ¶ 6, Ex. 3). Plaintiffs allege that Defendant owes liquidated damages for the untimely or failed payments in the amount of $337.94. (Id.). Plaintiffs also claim that pursuant to the Agreement, Defendant is required to pay Plaintiffs' attorneys' fees and costs if legal action is required to enforce the terms of the Agreement in regard to Defendant's contribution payments, submission of monthly reports, and payment of liquidated damages. (Doc. 10, p. 1-2 and Doc. 10-2, Ex. 1, Art. 45). Plaintiffs claim to have incurred a total of $762.90 in legal fees and costs in this matter. (Doc. 10, p. 2 and Doc. 10-11 Aff. of Greg Campbell.) In sum, Plaintiffs pray for an order of default judgment against Defendant in the amount of $4, 773.38 (Docs. 2, 10, & 12).
A party is authorized to seek a default judgment pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 55. Under this Rule, the Court may enter a judgment by default when the non-moving party has "failed to plead or otherwise defend" itself. FED.R.CIV.PRO. 55. "As a general rule, a 'default judgment establishe[s], as a matter of law, that defendants [are] liable to plaintiff as to each cause of action alleged in the complaint,'" as long as plaintiff's allegations are well-plead. Dundee Cement Co. v. Howard Pipe & Concrete Products, Inc., 722 F.2d 1319, 1323 (7th Cir. 1983) (citing Breuer Electric Mfg. Co. v. Toronado Systems of America, Inc., 687 F.2d 182, 186 (7th Cir. 1982)). Plaintiff (or the party moving for a default judgment), must then establish a right to the requested relief sought. In re Catt, 368 F.3d 789, 793 (7th Cir. 2004).
A party obtaining a default judgment in its favor is not entitled to an award "exceed[ing] [the] amount  prayed for in the demand for judgment." FED.R.CIV. PRO. 54(c). Allegations within the complaint regarding damages are not deemed true upon the rendering of a default judgment. In re Catt, 368 F.3d at 793 (citations omitted); DundeeCement Co., 722 F.2d at 1323 (citations omitted). Instead, the district court must determine with reasonable certainty the proper amount to award as damages to the prevailing party. Id. Such determination can be made either based upon an evidentiary hearing or from "definite figures contained in the documentary evidence or in detailed affidavits." Dundee Cement Co., 722 F.2d at 1323 (citations omitted); see also In re Catt, 368 F.3d at 793.
In any action pursuant to Section 502(g)(2) of ERISA for which judgment in favor of a statutory plan is granted, the Court must award the plan (1) all unpaid contributions, (2) interest on the unpaid contributions; (3) an amount equal to interest on the unpaid contributions or liquidated damages provided for under the plan not in excess of 20%; (4) reasonable attorneys fees; and (5)such other legal or equitable relief the court deems appropriate. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2).
Plaintiffs submitted several evidentiary items to their first Motion for Default in order to prove the amount of damages they allege they are entitled to obtain from Defendant. Specifically, Plaintiffs attached the following evidentiary items to their first Motion:
Item 1 Affidavit of David Glastetter ("Glastetter Aff.") with signature verification. The Glastetter affidavit has ...