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Carpenters Fringe Benefit Funds of Illinois v. McGreal Construction Co.

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 8, 2013

CARPENTERS FRINGE BENEFIT FUNDS OF ILLINOIS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
McGREAL CONSTRUCTION CO., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ARLANDER KEYS, Magistrate Judge.

On July 11, 2012, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order granting the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment as to liability, but finding that the amount of damages was not readily determinable from the parties' summary judgment submissions. The Court determined that:

[t]he evidence submitted by the Funds makes clear that McGreal has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to the Funds. But the evidence also shows that those payments may not have covered the full amount due and that they were rarely received by the Funds in a timely manner. McGreal admits that it was a signatory to the agreements requiring contribution payments to be made in a specified manner, and its failure to make such payments in accordance with the agreements gives rise to the litany of penalties provided therein; thus, in addition to the contribution payments, McGreal is on the hook for interest and liquidated damages, calculated as provided in the agreements, as well as for attorneys' fees and audit and court costs.

Memorandum Opinion and Order issued July 11, 2012 (Docket #39), p. 8.

Having determined what types of damages McGreal owed, the Court directed the parties to meet and confer in an effort to resolve the question of the amount of those damages. The parties were unsuccessful, however, and the issue is now back before the Court on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. The funds argue that they are entitled to judgment in the amount of $53, 797.79, plus costs and fees in the amount of $17, 522.50; McGreal denies that the plaintiffs are entitled to judgment in this amount and argues that issues of fact remain as to the exact amount to be awarded. For the reasons explained below, the Court grants the plaintiffs' motion.

Factual Background

The Carpenters Fringe Benefit Funds of Illinois consist of the Carpenters Pension Fund of Illinois and the Carpenters Retirement Savings Fund of Illinois, and serve as the collecting agent for various welfare and related joint, labor-management funds, including the Heartland Healthcare Fund, the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Apprenticeship Training Fund, the MIDRESCOM Construction Industry Advancement Fund, the National Labor Management Education and Development Fund, and the Labor/management Union Carpentry Cooperation Promotion Fund. See Plaintiffs' First Local Rule 56.1 Statement, ¶¶ 1, 3.[1] The Funds are employee pension benefit plans under ERISA, which are administered in this District. Id., ¶ 1. McGreal was, at all times relevant, bound to various collective bargaining agreements obligating it to report and pay contributions to the Funds on behalf of covered employees. Id., ¶ 5. McGreal, through the collective bargaining agreements, also agreed to be bound by the Trust Agreements governing the Funds, which further required McGreal to submit to payroll compliance audits and allowed the Funds to recover liquidated damages, interest, audit costs, and court costs and attorneys' fees for contribution payments that were either not paid at all or were not paid in a timely manner. Id., ¶¶ 6-7.

In their Amended Complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that McGreal failed to pay certain contributions as required under the relevant agreements, and that McGreal paid other required contributions late. In their initial summary judgment motion, the Funds sought judgment in the amount of $49, 839.66, plus fees and costs. This amount included: unpaid contributions in the amount of $18, 144.71 (and this, in turn, included $13, 620.06 in unpaid contributions identified in an audit report prepared by outside accountants in 2006 and $4, 524.65 in contributions from November and December 2010, which were reported by McGreal but never paid); $1, 814.48 in liquidated damages on those unpaid contributions ($1, 362.01 on the contributions identified in the 2006 Report and $452.47 for the November and December 2010 contributions); $23, 794.22 in liquidated damages for contributions paid late; and $6, 086.25 in audit costs. This time around, the plaintiffs seek the same amount with respect to the audit costs and with respect to unpaid contributions and liquidated damages for November and December of 2010. But they seek less in damages based on the 2006 Report ($12, 599.04 in unpaid contributions and $1, 259.90 in liquidated damages, as compared with $13, 620.06 in contributions and $1, 362.01 in liquidated damages) and more in liquidated damages for contributions paid late ($28, 875.48, as compared to $23, 794.22). The former is because the funds have elected not to pursue certain contributions challenged by McGreal, and the latter is simply due to the passage of additional time.

Discussion

As the Court noted in its last decision, "[s]ummary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Memorandum Opinion and Order issued July 11, 2012 (Docket #39), p. 3 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). The evidence submitted in connection with the first motion for summary judgment established that McGreal was liable to the funds under ERISA. And, as the Court noted in its earlier decision, ERISA provides that

[i]n 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 the plan -
(A) the unpaid contributions,
(B) interest on the unpaid contributions,
(C) an amount equal to the ...

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