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Unite Here Health v. Pittsburgh Athletic Association

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 25, 2014

UNITE HERE HEALTH, et al., Plaintiff,
v.
THE PITTSBURGH ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.

Plaintiff Unite Here Health (hereinafter the "Fund") brings this action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq., seeking to recover unpaid plan contributions from Defendant Pittsburgh Athletic Association ("PAA"). The Fund has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 28). For reasons stated herein, the Motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The Fund is an ERISA "welfare plan" and an "employee benefit trust fund" under the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5). The Fund is administered from its central offices in Aurora, Illinois.

PAA is a Pennsylvania nonprofit association and is an "employer" as the term is defined in ERISA. On November 1, 2008, PAA entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement (the "CBA") with the Pennsylvania Joint Board of Unite Here, Local 57, under which PAA agreed to pay contributions to the Fund at the following fixed monthly rates:

For employees hired before October 23, 2003:

For employees hired after October 23, 2003:

Through the CBA, PAA further agreed to be bound by the Agreement and Declaration of Trust of the Fund (the "Trust Agreement") and to "abide and be bound by all procedures established and actions taken" by the Trustees of the Fund ("Trustees") pursuant to the Trust Agreement. (Pl.'s' 56.1 Stmt. of Facts ("Pl.'s' Stmt.") ¶ 6, ECF No. 29). Any inconsistencies between the CBA and the Trust Agreement were to be resolved in favor of the Trust Agreement. ( Id. ).

Section 6.08 of the Trust Agreement confers upon the Trustees broad discretionary authority to interpret the terms of the Trust Agreement. Specifically, the Trustees were granted:

full and exclusive jurisdiction and discretionary authority to decide all questions or controversies of whatever character arising in any manner between any parties or persons in connection with the Welfare Fund or the interpretation thereof, including the construction of the language of this Trust Agreement, the benefit programs, the rules and regulations adopted by the Trustees, and any writing, decision, benefit eligibility determination, instrument, or accounts in connection with same and with the operation of the Welfare Fund or otherwise. All decisions, determinations, and any construction of the Trust Agreement adopted by the Trustees in good faith shall be binding upon all persons dealing with the Welfare Fund....

( Id. ¶ 7).

In addition, the Trustees were permitted to audit PAA's payroll books and collect interest and late fees on any ...


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