The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN C. LIFLAND
Presently before the Court is defendants' motion to vacate this Court's Order entered March 31, 1993. Plaintiff opposes defendants' motion. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny defendants' motion.
Defendants have referred the Court to certain cases which they feel support their position that an action to collect a judgment against members of a controlled employer group is governed by the limitations period set forth in § 1451(f) of the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 ("MPPAA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq., and is not governed by the statute of limitations for enforcement of judgments. Defendants assert that these cases were inadvertently omitted from their initial brief, and move pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) to vacate this Court's prior Order.
The Court has reviewed the additional cases cited by defendants on this relatively obscure issue, and is not persuaded that the Court's Order dated March 31, 1993 should be vacated. Defendants direct the Court's attention to Teamsters Pension Trust Fund v. H.F. Johnson, 830 F.2d 1009 (9th Cir. 1987); Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension v. Mississippi Warehouse Corporation, 1992, U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14829 (D. Ill. 1992); and Connors v. Peles, 724 F. Supp. 1538 (W.D. Pa. 1989).
The Johnson case is not on point. In Johnson, the Ninth Circuit held that the MPPAA six-year statute of limitations for enforcement of a withdrawal liability assessment preempted the Montana Probate Code which required that all claims against an estate be brought within four months of notice to the creditors. 830 F.2d at 1016. In Johnson, the Ninth Circuit did not address the limitations period applicable to the enforcement of a judgment that had been previously entered against one member of an employer group.
Defendants also rely on Mississippi Warehouse in support of their position. As in this case, the plaintiff in Mississippi Warehouse sought to enforce, against other controlled group members, a judgment previously obtained against an employer. The action was brought ten years after withdrawal liability was assessed. The Court held that the plaintiff was bound by the six-year limitations period of the MPPAA.
Defendants question this Court's conclusion that members of a controlled group are, in effect, "statutory alter egos." Able Truck, slip op. at 12. Defendants argue that controlled group members are not pro se alter egos and that controlled group liability is an independent cause of action, distinct from a claim based on alter ego liability. In support of their position defendants rely on Connors v. Peles, 724 F. Supp. 1538 (W.D. Pa. 1989). Defendants note that the Connors Court stated:
The ERISA "common control" statute . . . is a separate legal claim or cause of action under ERISA whereby two or more businesses under common control may be liable for withdrawal liability. The cause of action is entirely a creature of ERISA - that it is distinct from an "alter ego" claim requires no decision.
The above statement relied on by defendants is dicta. In Connors, the plaintiffs proceeded exclusively on a common law theory of alter ego liability; no controlled group claim under ERISA was ever asserted.
Also, the Court does not dispute that "controlled group" claims and common law "alter ego" claims are distinct. However, as explained in the Court's March 31, 1993 Opinion, the MPPAA and the Third Circuit have established that controlled groups are to be treated as a single entity. Thus, the cases involving common law alter egos are helpful because controlled group members are analogous to common law alter egos.
The Court awarded plaintiff accrued interest and statutory liquidated damages pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132 (g)(2). For the first time, defendants raise the issue of the Fund's right to remedies under 29 U.S.C. § 1132 (g)(2). Defendants argue that if plaintiff avoids the time limits of § 1451(f) by being permitted to proceed on the theory that the instant action is simply an action to enforce a judgment against Trucking, then plaintiff should not be entitled to ". . . mandatory interest, attorney fees and liquidated damages . . ." under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2).