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Board of Trustees of the Rockford Pipe Trades Industry Pension Fund et al v. Fiorenza Enterprises

March 18, 2011

BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE ROCKFORD PIPE TRADES INDUSTRY PENSION FUND ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
FIORENZA ENTERPRISES, INC. D/B/A SERVICE PLUMBING, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Young B. Kim

MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER

Before the court is the summary judgment motion of Plaintiffs Board of Trustees of the Rockford Pipe Trades Industry Pension Fund, Board of Trustees of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, Local 23, U.A. Health and Welfare Fund, Board of Trustees of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, Local 23, U.A. Journeyman and Apprentice Training Fund (collectively "Trust Funds"), Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, Local 23, U.A. ("Union"), Piping Industry Council of the Rockford Area ("Employer Association"), Board of Trustees of the Rockford Pipe Trades Industry 401(k) Plan (the "401(k) Plan"), and Board of Trustees of the Rockford Pipe Trades LMCC ("LMCC"). For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied in part:

Procedural History

On June 10, 2010, Plaintiffs filed this action alleging that Defendant Fiorenza Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Service Plumbing ("Fiorenza") violated Section 502 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132, 1145, and Section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185, by failing to make monthly contributions to the Trust Funds, Employer Association, the 401(k) Plan, and the LMCC, and by failing to deduct and remit dues to the Union pursuant to the terms of the parties' collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"). (R. 1.) On August 31, 2010, Fiorenza filed an answer in which it asserted an affirmative defense requesting that the court offset any judgment against it by $13,000 in unpaid target money that the Union owes to Fiorenza. (Id. at 21.)

On October 28, 2010, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion for summary judgment and supporting papers. (R. 25-27.) On December 10, 2010, Fiorenza filed its response to the motion, (id. at 35-37), and on December 27, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a reply, (id. at 38). Subsequent to briefing the motion for summary judgment, the parties reported to the court that they had reached an agreement as to the amount of unpaid contributions and unpaid interest Fiorenza owes to Plaintiffs. (Id. at 40.) On February 4, 2011, the parties filed a Stipulation of Material Facts ("Stipulation") detailing each of the amounts Fiorenza owes. (Id. at 41.) Furthermore, in the Stipulation, the parties agreed that Fiorenza did not owe any contributions for Joseph Fiorenza because his alumni participation agreement terminated on August 26, 2009. (Id.)

On March 9, 2011, the court held an oral argument in order to clarify a number of issues raised in Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. (R. 43, 47.) The next day, on March 10, 2011, Plaintiffs filed a supplement to their motion for summary judgment comprising of two affidavits. (Id. at 48.) In the first affidavit, Plaintiffs detailed their liquidated damages assessment for the period of January 2008 through July 2010. (Id., Ex. 1.) In the second affidavit, Plaintiffs detailed the amount of attorney's fees and costs they have incurred for the period of December 28, 2010, through March 10, 2011. (Id., Ex. 2.) The court granted Fiorenza until March 16, 2011, to file a response to Plaintiff's supplemental affidavits, but Fiorenza did not file one.

Facts

On June 10, 2002, Fiorenza entered into a Subscription Agreement whereby it agreed to be bound by the terms and conditions of the CBA negotiated between the Union and the Employer Association, and by all other successor agreements entered into between these two entities. (R. 26, Pls.' Facts ¶ 4.)*fn1 By executing the Subscription Agreement, Fiorenza was further bound by the provisions of the Agreements and Declarations of Trust (collectively "Trust Agreements"), which created the Trust Funds and the 401(k) Plan. (Id. ¶ 5.)

Under the terms of the CBA and Trust Agreements, Fiorenza is required to prepare monthly contribution reports of the hours worked by each covered employee and pay contributions to the Trust Funds, the Employer Association and the LMCC for each hour paid at the rates specified by these agreements. (R. 26, Pls.' Facts ¶¶ 6-9.) In addition, Fiorenza is required to deduct from the gross wages of each covered employee an amount designated by an employee and remit that amount to the 401(k) Plan each month. (Id. ¶ 10.) Fiorenza is further required to deduct assessments for Union dues and other programs from the wages of each covered employee and remit them to Plaintiffs on a monthly basis. (Id. ¶ 11.) The CBA and Trust Agreements mandate that the monthly contribution reports and payments be made on or before the 10th day of each month. (Id. ¶ 12.)

According to the CBA, an employer who fails to submit monthly contribution reports and contributions to the Trust Funds, the Employer Association, the 401(k) Plan, and the LMCC on a timely basis are responsible for the payment of liquidated damages and interest.

(R. 26, Pls.' Facts ¶ 13.) A delinquent employer shall pay to the fund involved: "1) liquidated damages in the amount of five percent (5%) of delinquent contributions, and 2) interest on unpaid contributions at the rate of Prime (2%) per annum from the first day of the month following the month in which they are due until paid." (Id., CBA, § 14.6(a).) And the CBA requires that a delinquent employer "pay all reasonable costs incurred by the Trust Funds in the collection of unpaid contributions, liquidated damages or interest charges," including attorney's fees and costs. (Id. ¶ 14.)

Fiorenza failed to pay the full amount of the contributions and Union dues it owes to Plaintiffs for the period of July 2009 through July 2010. (R. 41.) In August 2010, after Plaintiffs filed the instant action, Plaintiffs obtained a partial payment from a letter of credit secured by Fiorenza in the amount of $20,000, which reduced the amount of unpaid contributions. (R. 26, Pls.' Facts ¶ 16.) The parties have reached an agreement that Fiorenza owes Plaintiffs $30,952.65 in unpaid contributions and $2,969.68 in unpaid interest through July 2010. (R. 41.) However, the parties dispute the amount of target money the Union owes to Fiorenza and the amount of liquidated damages, attorney's fees and costs Fiorenza owes to Plaintiffs. (R. 36, Def.'s Fact Resp. ¶¶ 19-22.)

Analysis

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record establishes that 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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In deciding whether genuine issues of material fact exist, the court must "review the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and . . . draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor." Vanasco v. Nat'l-Louis Univ., 137 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 1998). A genuine issue of material fact is not shown by the "mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties," Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986), or by "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio ...


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