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Einhorn v. M.L. Ruberton Construction Co.

June 28, 2010

WILLIAM EINHORN, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE TEAMSTERS PENSION TRUST FUND OF PHILADELPHIA AND VICINITY AND THE TEAMSTERS HEALTH AND WELFARE TRUST FUND OF PHILADELPHIA AND VICINITY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
M.L. RUBERTON CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, DEFENDANT / THIRD PARTY PLAINTIFF,
v.
RONALD TOBIA, ESQ.; TOBIA & SORGER ESQUIRES, LLC; AND DAVID DECLEMENT, ESQ., THIRD PARTY DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irenas, Senior District Judge

HONORABLE JOSEPH E. IRENAS

OPINION

Presently before the Court is Defendant M.L. Ruberton Construction Co.'s (Ruberton) Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs (Motion). The Motion follows a prior opinion and order, which granted Defendant Ruberton's motion for summary judgment.*fn1

For the following reasons, the Motion will be denied.

I.

This case has a long and complex factual and procedural history that, for the most part, is not relevant to the present Motion. The Court will briefly summarize the relevant background.*fn2 Over the past four years, three related cases have been brought before this Court. In the first suit, Teamster's Local Union No. 676 v. Statewide Hi-Way Safety, Inc., (05-4652)(JEI) (the Injunction Suit), Local 676, who had collective bargaining agreements (CBA) with Statewide, sought to enjoin Statewide from selling its assets to Ruberton. The Injunction Suit was quickly settled, and Statewide sold its assets to Ruberton shortly thereafter.

In the second suit, Einhorn v. Statewide, George R. Smith Jr., and Ruberton, (05-5774)(JEI)(the Delinquency Suit), Einhorn sought to recover allegedly delinquent payments to the Funds*fn3 ,

which Statewide was obligated to make pursuant to its CBA with Local 676.*fn4 While Einhorn alleged that the delinquencies arose prior to the asset sale, he also alleged that Ruberton was liable for the delinquencies as Statewide's successor. Like the previous Injunction Suit, the Delinquency Suit settled. In the agreement settling the Delinquency Suit, Statewide agreed to pay the delinquencies in exchange for Einhorn waiving a portion of the liquidated damages.*fn5

Statewide never paid the full amount due under the Settlement Agreement, leading to the third suit, where Einhorn sued only Ruberton, attempting to recover what Statewide failed to pay under a theory of successor liability (the Successor Suit). In that suit, the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. This Court rejected Einhorn's theory of successor liability, granted summary judgment in favor of Ruberton and denied Einhorn's motion for summary judgment. See Ruberton, 665 F.Supp.2d at 476-77.*fn6

Presently before the Court is Ruberton's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs in connection with the defense of the Successor Suit pursuant to Section 502(g)(1) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1).*fn7

II.

Section 1132(g)(1) provides, "[i]n any action under this subchapter... by a participant, beneficiary, or fiduciary, the court in its discretion may allow a reasonable attorney's fee and costs of action to either party." In exercising its discretion, the Court considers:

(1) the offending parties' culpability or bad faith;

(2) the ability of the offending parties to satisfy an award ...


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