The opinion of the court was delivered by: WOLIN
This action is before the Court on several motions of the defendant Satnick Development Corp. ("Satnick"). Satnick moves to dismiss a portion of the claims of the plaintiffs, Edwin H. Stier (the "Trustee") and the Teamsters Industrial Employees Pension and Welfare Funds, Inc. (the "Funds"), because the claims are allegedly barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Satnick also moves to dismiss this action because the Trustee and the Funds are allegedly bound by a mediation and arbitration agreement. The Court has considered these matters upon the written submissions of the parties pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons stated herein, Satnick's motion will be denied in its entirety.
The plaintiff Funds are multi-employer benefit funds as defined under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA") and are administered in accordance with their respective trust indentures. Edwin H. Stier is Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, which administers daily Fund operations.
Local Union No. 560, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America ("Local 560") is a labor organization. Local 560 and Satnick signed and later renewed a collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA") that required Satnick to contribute monthly to the Funds on behalf of all bargaining unit employees.
The initial period for the CBA was from July 1, 1981 through June 30, 1984. It was later extended from July 1, 1984 through June 30, 1987. Finally, the CBA was extended to include the period between July 1, 1987 through June 30, 1990.
Under the CBA, Satnick was required to submit contribution reports, indicating each covered employee's wages and hours. Satnick was to certify in each report that each report reflected all employees entitled to contributions.
The CBA between Satnick and Local 560 indicates that all disputes between Satnick and Local 560 must be submitted to mediation or arbitration before resort to judicial processes:
All disputes arising out of the interpretation or application of this agreement shall first be taken up between the Employer and the Union. . . . In the event that the Employer and the Union are unable to adjust the matter, the dispute shall . . . be reduced to writing and referred to the New Jersey State Board of Mediation (whose rules and decisions shall be considered final and binding by both parties to this agreement) for mediation and arbitration.
The Welfare Fund Trust Agreement authorizes the Trustees to sue to effectuate the purposes of the Trust:
To effectuate the purposes of the Trust, the Trustees shall, without previous approval of or subsequent ratification by any party hereto or any court, tribunal or agency . . . institute suit, commence administrative proceedings, and take other such action in the prosecution of or in the defense of any matter involved the Fund . . . .
The Pension Fund Trust Agreement also empowers the trustees to sue to enforce the terms of the agreement: "The Trustees are hereby empowered to do all acts whether or not expressly authorized herein, which the Trustees may deem necessary to accomplish the general objectives of the plan."
In January of 1994, the Funds began to audit Satnick's payroll and financial records for the period between October 1, 1987 and December 31, 1993 to verify the accuracy of Satnick's contributions. During the audit, fund auditors worked for twenty-seven man days over a twelve day period. The audit covered two hundred and ...