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Eighth District Electrical Pension Fund v. Campbell Electric, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 17, 2017

EIGHTH DISTRICT ELECTRICAL PENSION FUND, and JAMES MANTELE, a Chairman of the Delinquency Committee for the Eighth District Electrical Pension Fund, Plaintiffs,
v.
CAMPBELL ELECTRIC, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING AMENDED MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO, United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Amended Motion for Default Judgment seeking an Order for Default Judgment against the Defendant Campbell Electric, Inc. pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2) and D.C.COLO.LCivR 55.1. (Doc. # 20 at 1.) For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion.

         I. Background

         On January 19, 2017, the clerk entered a default against Defendant Campbell Electric, Inc. (Doc. # 11). Defendant Campbell Electric, Inc. has failed to file an answer to the complaint or otherwise appear in the action.

         Plaintiffs are seeking to recover from Campbell Electric an assessment of withdrawal liability under ERISA as well as liquidated damages, interest, and attorney fees and costs. (Doc. # 20.) The Plaintiffs initiated this litigation under §§ 502(a)(3) and 515 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(a)(3) and 1145, and the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 (MPPAA), 29 U.S.C. § 1381, et seq. to collect monetary damages to remedy Campbell Electric's failure to make withdrawal liability payments to the Plaintiff Fund. (Doc. # 1 at 1.) The Plaintiffs are an employee benefit plan established and operated pursuant to the ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq., and the duly appointed and acting fiduciary of that Fund. (Doc. # 1 at 1-2.)

         Defendant Campbell Electric is an Idaho corporation and an employer within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 1002(5). (Doc. # 1 at 2.) Defendant Campbell Electric was a party to a collective bargaining agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and/or affiliate local unions of the Union. (Doc. # 1 at 2; Doc. # 20-2 at 1.) The Pension Fund was established and operated pursuant to a written agreement and/or declaration of trust. (Doc. # 1 at 2; Doc. # 20-2 at 1.) This agreement and/or declaration of trust was incorporated by reference into and was a material part of the collective bargain agreement(s) between Campbell Electric and the Union and/or its affiliate local unions. (Id.)

         The collective bargaining agreement(s) between the Union and Campbell Electric required that Defendant make contributions on behalf of its employees to the Pension Fund in Colorado. (Doc. # 1 at 2; Doc. # 20-2 at 1-2.) Campbell Electric permanently ceased to have an obligation to contribute to the Pension Fund and/or ceased all covered operations in 2015. (Doc. # 1 at 3; Doc. # 20-2 at 2.) This resulted in Campbell Electric's complete withdrawal from the Pension Fund within the meaning of § 4203(a) of the MPPAA, 29 U.S.C. § 1383(a). (Doc. # 1 at 3.)

         Due to Campbell Electric's complete withdrawal, Campbell Electric incurred and the Pension Fund assessed withdrawal liability against Campbell Electric. (Doc. # 20-2 at 2.) On January 13, 2016, the Pension Fund advised Campbell Electric in a letter of its withdrawal liability in the amount of $35, 287.76. (Doc. # 1 at 3; Doc. # 20-2 at 2.) This letter also provided a payment schedule and demanded payment in accordance with the payment schedule. (Id.) The first payment under the payment schedule was due within 60 days of the date of the January 13, 2016 letter. (Id.)

         Between February 4, 2016 and May 18, 2016, the parties exchanged correspondence concerning the calculation of the withdrawal liability assessment. (Doc. #1 at 3-4; Doc. # 20-2 at 2-4.) In a letter on April 6, 2016, the Pension Fund confirmed the employer contribution numbers used to calculate the withdrawal liability assessment. (Doc. # 1 at 4; Doc. # 20-2 at 3.) On May 18, 2016, the Pension Fund again confirmed that the numbers used in the actuary's calculation of withdrawal liability were correct and demanded that Campbell Electric cure its failure to begin making withdrawal liability payments according to the schedule set forth in the January 13, 2016 letter. (Doc. # 1 at 4-5; Doc. # 20-2 at 3-4.)

         On June 13, 2016, Campbell Electric made a $5, 000.00 payment to the Pension Fund. (Doc. # 1 at 5; Doc. # 20-2 at 4.) On June 14, 2016, the Pension Fund sent correspondence to Campbell Electric advising that the payment schedule amount due was $8, 057.31 and demanded remittance of the outstanding remaining balance of the first quarterly payment in the amount of $3, 057.34. (Doc. # 1 at 5; Doc. # 20-2 at 4.)

         On June 13, 2016, Campbell Electric sent correspondence to the Pension Fund again requesting that it review the employer contributions used in calculating the withdrawal liability. (Id.)

         On June 23, 2016, Campbell Electric remitted a payment of $3, 057.34 for the balance of the first quarterly payment under the payment schedule to the Pension Fund. (Id.)

         The Pension Fund responded to the June 13, 2016 letter on August 11, 2016. (Doc. # 1 at 5; Doc. # 20-2 at 4-5.) The Pension Fund took the position that Campbell Electric's letter of March 9, 2016 (which stated that the contribution figures used by the Pension Fund to calculate the withdrawal liability did not match its own reports) was a request for review. (Id.) The Pension Fund also took the position that Campbell Electric was liable for the entire withdrawal liability assessment because no arbitration was initiated contesting the withdrawal liability assessment within 60 days from the date of the Pension Fund's letter of April 6, 2016. (Doc. # 1 at 5-6; Doc. # 20-2 at 5.)

         On September 8, 2016, Campbell Electric sent correspondence to the Pension Fund purporting to initiate arbitration. (Doc. # 1 at 6; Doc. # 20-2 at 5.) Under Section 4221(a)(1) of the MPPAA, 29 U.S.C. § ...


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