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Mayer Electrical Contracting, Inc v. Timothy Foley

July 10, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:


On September 1, 2011, Plaintiff Mayer Electrical Contracting, Inc. ("Mayer") filed its Complaint against Defendants Timothy Foley, Michael Caddigan, Lawrence Crawley, Samuel Evans, James North, William T. Divane, Kenneth Bauwens, Steven Diamond, Kevin M. O'Shea, and Michael Walsdorf, in their capacity as the Electrical Insurance Trustees (collectively, the "Trustees"), seeking a declaratory judgment. (R. 1.) Specifically, Mayer seeks a declaration that it does not owe $44,436.46 in delinquent fringe benefit contributions under a plan created pursuant to an agreement between the Electrical Contractors Association of the City of Chicago ("ECA") and Local 134, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ("Local 134"). Before the Court are the Trustees' motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56(a) and Mayer's cross-motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the Court grants the Trustees' motion and denies Mayer's motion.


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chi. Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). "The Rule is designed, in part, to aid the district court, 'which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information,' in determining whether a trial is necessary." Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). "The opposing party is required to file 'a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Id. (citing N.D. Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). Pursuant to the Local Rules, the Court will not consider any additional facts proposed in the nonmoving party's Local Rule 56. 1(b)(3)(B) Response, but must rely on the non-movant's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) Statement of Additional Facts. See Ciomber v. Coop. Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643 (7th Cir. 2008).

The purpose of Local Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006) ("statement of material facts did [] not comply with Rule 56.1 as it failed to adequately cite the record and was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture"). Moreover, the requirements for responses under Local Rule 56.1 are "not satisfied by evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted." Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528. The Court may also disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cady, 467 F.3d at 1060; Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2005). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

A. The Parties and the Relevant Agreements

The Trustees are the duly-appointed and acting trustees under an agreement between the ECA and Local 134. (R. 52, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 3.) Mayer is an electrical contracting company, which, at various times, employed members of Local 134. (Id. ¶ 4; R. 56, Plf.'s Add'tl Stmt. Facts ¶ 25.*fn1 ) Mayer signed a Letter of Assent, effective February 4, 1998, thereby agreeing to the terms of a collective-bargaining agreement entered into between the ECA and Local 134 (the "Principal Agreement"). (Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 4.) Under the Principal Agreement, Mayer agreed to pay certain wage rates and to file a monthly report with, and make a monthly contribution to, the Trustees to cover certain fringe benefits. (Id. ¶ 5.) The exact amount of the fringe benefit contributions that an employer has to pay depends upon the number of hours Local 134 members have worked for that particular employer. (Plf.'s Add'tl Stmt. Facts ¶ 26.)

The parties' present dispute involves the so-called "owner in fact" clause in the Principal Agreement, which provides, in relevant part, as follows:

If an Employer employs an Employee who is related to one of the owners of the Employer as a child, parent, sibling, in-law or spouse of either such owner or the owner's spouse, the Employer shall make fringe benefit contributions on behalf of such Employee on a full-time basis of not less than 40 hours per week for 48 weeks per calendar year; unless the Employer can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Electrical Insurance Trustees that the Employee actually worked fewer hours, in which case the Trustees may determine that additional contributions need not be paid on behalf of that relative beyond the hours they determined were actually worked.

The Electrical Insurance Trustees are also authorized to require such full-time contributions by the Employer on behalf of an Employee who exercises significant control over the management and/or operation of the Employer's business, unless the Employer can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Trustees that the Employee does not exercise such control. (Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 6.)

Section 4.21(d) of the Principal Agreement provides that "[u]pon layoff or discharge of any employee, the employer shall fax or mail a copy of the severance notice to the Referral Office at: Local Union #134, IBEW Referral Office, 1140 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301, Phone -- (312) 466-8300 Fax -- (312) 466-8313." (Id. ¶ 17; Trustees' Reply at 4.*fn2 ) Local 134's

Journeyman Wireman Referral Policy provides, in part, that "[a]ll Applicants for employment shall fill out a 'Group Registration Application' . . . . The Applicant shall sign the appropriate 'Out of Work' Group . . . . Applicants must re-register at the ...

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