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Laborers' Pension Fund v. P.S. Coyote Plumbing Enterprise, Inc.

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

December 19, 2016

LABORERS' PENSION FUND, and LABORERS' WELFARE FUND OF THE HEALTH AND WELFARE DEPARTMENT OF THE CONSTRUCTION AND GENERAL LABORERS' DISTRICT COUNCIL OF CHICAGO AND VICINITY, and LABORERS' DISTRICT COUNCIL RETIREE HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, and JAMES S. JORGENSEN, Administrator of the Funds, Plaintiffs,
v.
P.S. COYOTE PLUMBING ENTERPRISE, INC., an Illinois Corporation, Defendant. $107, 872.48 $18, 870.73

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs Laborers' Pension Fund, Laborers' Welfare Fund of the Health and Welfare Department of the Construction and General Laborers' District Council of Chicago and Vicinity, and Laborers' District Council Retiree Health and Welfare Fund (collectively, the “Funds”), and James S. Jorgensen, Administrator of the Funds (collectively with the Funds, “Plaintiffs”) brought suit against Defendant PS Coyote Plumbing Enterprise, Inc. (“Defendant”) for liability under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). Before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment [25], to which Defendant has failed to respond. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Plaintiffs' motion [25]. Judgment will be entered in favor of Plaintiffs against Defendant in the aggregate amount of $134, 432.21.

         I. Background

         The Court takes the relevant facts from Plaintiffs' Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts [27] and supporting exhibits [28]. Defendant did not respond to Plaintiffs' motion or Statement of Material Facts.[1] Therefore, pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C), Plaintiffs' fact statements are deemed admitted. N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C) (“All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party.”); see also Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003); De v. City of Chicago, 912 F.Supp.2d 709, 712-13 (N.D. Ill. 2012).

         The Funds are multiemployer benefit plans within the meanings of Sections 3(3) and 3(37) of ERISA. 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3), (37)(A). They are established and maintained pursuant to their respective Agreements and Declarations of Trust in accordance with Section 302(c)(5) of the Labor Relations Management Act (“LMRA”). 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5).

         James S. Jorgensen (“Jorgensen”) has been duly authorized by the Funds' Trustees to act on behalf of the Funds in the collection of employer contributions owed to the Funds and to the Construction and General District Council of Chicago and Vicinity Training Fund, and with respect to the collection by the Funds of amounts which have been or are required to be withheld from the wages of employees in payment of union dues for transmittal to the Construction and General Laborers' District Council of Chicago and Vicinity (the “Union”). With respect to such matters, Jorgenson is a fiduciary of the Funds within the meaning of Section 3(21)(A) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §1002(21)(A).

         Defendant is an Illinois corporation and was at all times relevant herein an employer within the meaning of Section 3(5) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §1002(5), and Section 301(a) of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. §185(c).

         The Union is a labor organization within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. §185(a). The Union and Defendant have been parties to successive collective bargaining agreements, the most recent of which became effective June 1, 2013 (the “Agreement”).

         The Funds have been duly authorized by the Construction and General Laborers' District Council of Chicago and Vicinity Training Fund (the “Training Fund”), the Laborers' Employers' Cooperation and Education Trust (“LECET”), the Laborers' District Council Labor Management Committee Cooperative (“LDCLMCC”), the Midwest Construction Industry Advancement Fund (“MCIAF”), and the CISCO Uniform Drug/Alcohol Abuse Program (“CISCO”) to act as agents in the collection of contributions due to those funds.

         The Agreement and the Funds' respective Agreements and Declarations of Trust obligate Defendant to make contributions on behalf of its employees covered by the Agreement, and to submit monthly remittance reports in which Defendant identifies the employees covered under the Agreements and the amount of contributions to be remitted to the Funds on behalf of each covered employee. The Agreement and the Funds' respective Agreements and Declarations of Trust, to which Defendant is bound, require Defendant to submit benefit and union dues reports and contribution payments by the tenth day of the following month. Benefits contributions which are not received within thirty days of this date are assessed liquidated damages in the amount of 20 percent of the principal amount of delinquent contributions, and interest at a rate of 12 percent from the date of delinquency forward. Dues contributions which are not received by the tenth day of the following month are assessed liquidated damages in the amount of 10 percent of the principal amount of delinquent contributions.

         The Agreement and the Funds' respective Agreements and Declarations of Trust also require Defendant to submit its books and records to the Funds on demand for an audit to determine benefit contribution compliance.

         An audit of Defendant's books and records for the time period of March 1, 2010 through April 30, 2013 (the “First Audit”) revealed that Defendant performed covered work during the First Audit period, but that notwithstanding the obligations imposed by the Agreement and the Funds' respective Agreements and Declarations of Trust, Defendant:

(a) failed to report and pay contributions in the amount of $24, 591.00 owed to Plaintiff Laborers' Pension Fund for the audit period of March 1, 2010 through April 30, 2013, thereby depriving the Laborers' Pension Fund of contributions, income, and information needed to administer the Fund and jeopardizing the pension benefits of the participants and beneficiaries;
(b) failed to report and pay contributions in the amount of $31, 703.00 owed to Plaintiff Laborers' Welfare Fund of the Health and Welfare Department of the Construction and General Laborers' District Council of Chicago and Vicinity for the audit period of March 1, 2010 through April 30, 2013, thereby depriving the Welfare Fund of contributions, income, and information needed to administer the Fund and jeopardizing the health and welfare benefits of the participants and beneficiaries;
(c) failed to report and pay contributions in the amount of $1, 310.60 owed to the Laborers' Training Fund for the audit period of March 1, 2010 through April 30, 2013, thereby depriving the Training Fund of contributions, income, and information needed to administer the Fund and ...

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