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Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Fund v. Rink Systems, Inc.

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

August 21, 2014

CHICAGO REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS PENSION FUND, CHICAGO REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS WELFARE FUND, CHICAGO AND NORTHEAST ILLINOIS REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS APPRENTICE AND TRAINING PROGRAM and LABOR/MANAGEMENT UNION CARPENTRY COOPERATION PROMOTION FUND, Plaintiffs,
v.
RINK SYSTEMS, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RONALD A. GUZMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Funds sue defendant Rink Systems, Inc. pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") for Rink's alleged failure to make required contributions and produce records to the Funds. The case is before the Court on the Funds' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motion.

Facts

The Funds are multi-employer trust funds, each of which is governed by a Trust Agreement, that provide benefits to members of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters ("union"). (Def.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt.¶¶ 1-2.) The Funds collect contributions from employers who have agreed to be bound by the Trust Agreements and the collective bargaining agreement ("Area Agreement") between the union and employers. ( Id. ¶¶ 3-5.)

The Area Agreement requires employers to make contributions to the Funds for hours worked by employees and certain supervisors who perform bargaining unit work. (Pls.' LR 56.1(a) Stmt., Ex. A, Libby Aff., Ex. 4, Area Agreement §§ 12.1, 12.11, 13.1, 13.9, 14.1, 14.9, 35.1.) The Area Agreement defines the bargaining unit as:

[A]ll Journeymen, Foremen, Apprentices and Trainees engaged in work at the construction site covered by the occupational jurisdiction of the "UNION" including, but not limited to, the milling, fashioning, joining, assembling, erection, fastening or dismantling of all material of wood, plastic, metal, fiber, cork, and composition, and all other substitute materials; concrete forming, gang forms; the handling, erecting, installing and dismantling of machinery and equipment, hydraulic jacking and raising, and the manufacturing of all material where the skill, knowledge and training of the Employees are required, either through the operation of machine or hand tools[;]... all Journeymen, Foremen, Apprentices and Trainees engaged in work as Carpenters and Joiners...; and all those engaged in the operation of wood working or the machinery required in the fashioning, milling or manufacturing of products used in the trade, or engaged as helpers to any of the above divisions or subdivisions, and the handling, erecting and installing material on any of the above divisions or subdivisions....

( Id. § 1.1.)

The Agreement requires employers to subcontract with other union employers, and if they do not, to "require [non-union] subcontractor[s] to be bound by all provisions of [the Area Agreement], or... [to] maintain daily records of the [non-union] subcontractor's... jobsite hours" and make contributions for them to the Funds. ( Id. §§ 3.2-3.5.) An employer who does not make the required contributions "shall pay in addition to the amount due, reasonable fees of Certified Public Accountants as expressly used to establish the amount due, reasonable fees of Attorney in effectuating payment, and liquidated damages in an amount as determined in accordance in accordance with [the Area and Trust Agreements]." ( Id. § 12.10.)

Each Trust Agreement gives the trustees the right to "enter upon the premises of any employer... to examine and copy such books, records, papers and reports" necessary to determine the number of employees performing bargaining unit work, the number of hours of such work performed, the place the work was performed, and whether the employer has made appropriate contributions to the Fund. (Pls.' LR 56.1(a) Stmt., Ex. A, Libby Aff., Ex. 5, Pension Trust Agreement, art. VI § 2B; id., Ex. 6, Welfare Trust Agreement, art. IV § 20; id., Ex. 7, Apprentice & Training Trust Agreement, art. VI § 3; see id., Ex. 8, Promotion Fund Trust Agreement, art. 7.3 ("All Employers shall submit to the Fund written reports or documents as the Board of Trustees may deem necessary or appropriate to collect and substantiate contributions.").) Each Trust Agreement also gives the trustees power to assess liquidated damages against any employer who fails to make required contributions. ( Id., Ex. 5, Pension Trust Agreement, art. IV § 4, art. VI § 2C; id., Ex. 6, Welfare Trust Agreement, art. IV § 3; id., Ex. 7, Apprentice & Training Trust Agreement, art. VI § 4; id., Ex. 8, Promotion Fund Trust Agreement, art. 7.5.)

Rink, through its president Stacey Overgaard, signed a contract with the union dated October 1, 2011 agreeing to be bound by the Area and Trust Agreements for "all carpentry work [Rink] performed at... Cicero Community Ice Center." ( Id., Ex. 1, One Jobsite Agreement ¶ 1.) Rink hired Kendale Subcontractors, a sole proprietorship run by Ken Weaver, to work on the Cicero project but did not ask Weaver to sign the Area Agreement. (Pls.' LR 56.1(a) Stmt., Ex. J, Weaver Dep. at 11-15; id., Ex. E, Stacey Overgaard Dep. at 55-57.)

Weaver and two other Kendale employees, Ryan Riley and Megan Keefer, worked on the Cicero job along with two union carpenters, Ricardo Valenciana and Nick Carreto. ( Id., Ex. J, Weaver Dep. at 24-26; id., Ex. M, Valenciana Dep. at 7-11.) Weaver and Riley joined the union for the Cicero job; Keefer did not. ( Id., Ex. J, Weaver Dep. at 19-21.) Scott Overgaard, Stacey's brother and a co-owner of Rink, supervised the work. ( Id. at 28-30; id., Ex. E, Stacey Overgaard Dep. at 8-9, 33-34.)

The Cicero work was done in two phases, the first from October 24-28, 2011, and the second from December 6-9, 2011. ( Id., Ex. J, Weaver Dep. at 26, 34.) Weaver, Riley and Keefer each worked seventy-two hours on the Cicero project; forty hours in October, and thirty-two hours in December. (Def.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶¶ 32-33.) Rink reported Weaver and Riley's hours to the Funds and made the required contributions for them. ( Id. ¶ 41.) It did not report or make any contributions for Keefer and Scott Overgaard's work on the Cicero job. ( Id. ¶¶ 42, 46.)

The Funds allege that Rink breached the Area and Trust Agreements by failing to require Kendale to sign or abide by the Area Agreement, failing to pay contributions for Keefer and Scott ...


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