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Trustees of the Hotel Employees v. Mazi Enterprise

March 28, 2011

TRUSTEES OF THE HOTEL EMPLOYEES &
RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION WELFARE FUND ET AL, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MAZI ENTERPRISE, LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Joseph H. Rodriguez

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

MEMORANDUM ORDER

RODRIGUEZ, J.

This matter comes before the Court on an unopposed motion of Plaintiffs Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees and International Union Welfare Fund and the Trustees thereof, seeking entry of default judgment against Defendant Mazi Enterprise, LLC d/b/a JJ's Cafe [Dkt. Entry No. 6]. The Court has considered the submissions of the Plaintiffs and notes that Defendant has not responded to the motion. For the reasons expressed below, Plaintiffs' motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Because the Defendant has not responded in any way, all facts are taken from the Plaintiffs' Complaint [Dkt. Entry No. 1] and the certifications and the attachments in support of the Motion for Default Judgment [Dkt. Entry Nos. 6, 8]. Plaintiff Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees and International Union Welfare Fund ("Fund") is a trust fund established under the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5) and a "multiemployer plan" and "employee benefit plan" within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA") , 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. (Comp. at ¶ 4.) Plaintiff Trustees of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees and International Union Welfare Fund ("Fund Trustees") are trustees and fiduciaries for the Fund and are authorized to bring this action on behalf of the Fund. (Id. at ¶ 6.)

Defendant Mazi Enterprise, LLC d/b/a JJ'S Cafe is an employer in an industry affecting commerce under both the LMRA and ERISA. (Id. at 8.) At all relevant times hereto, Defendant was a party to a collective bargaining agreement with Unite Here Local 54 ("Union") whereby Defendant agreed, effective October 1, 2009, to contribute $622.50 on behalf of each covered employee per month and $522.50 employee co-pay for all employees who have not waived coverage and to make full monthly payments no later than the fifteenth day of the month following the month for which contributions are to be made. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiffs allege that Defendant is delinquent and owes contributions for the period of June 2010 through October 2010.*fn1 (Id. at 14, 20.) Plaintiffs seek damages in the amount of the principal contributions due, interest, liquidated damages, reasonable attorney's fees, and costs of suit pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2). (Id. at 23.)

II. JURISDICTION

Before entering default judgment against a party that has not filed a responsive pleading, "the district court has an affirmative duty to look into its jurisdiction both over the subject matter and the parties." Williams v. Life Sav. & Loan, 802 F.2d 1200, 1203 (10th Cir. 1986); Ayers v. Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A., 99 F.3d 565, 569 (3d Cir. 1996) ("In order to impose personal liability upon a defendant or obligate him or her in favor of a plaintiff, a court must be vested with jurisdiction over the parties as well as subject matter jurisdiction.").

The Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. This action involves a federal question because the dispute arises under the LMRA and ERISA. Section 301(a) of the LMRA provides that contractual disputes "between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce . . . may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties." 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). Because this action involves Defendant's alleged violation of the parties' collective bargaining agreement, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a) is applicable. Further, section 515 of ERISA states that "[e]very employer who is obligated to make contributions to a multiemployer plan under the terms of the plan or under the terms of a collectively bargained agreement shall, to the extent not inconsistent with law, make such contributions in accordance with the terms and conditions of such plan or such agreement." 29 U.S.C. § 1145. Because the Complaint alleges Defendant is an employer that has failed to make contributions in accordance with the agreement, 29 U.S.C. § 1145 is also applicable.*fn2

The Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant because it maintains an office in Margate, New Jersey.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 governs the entry of default judgment. The Rule provides:

(a) Entering a Default. When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or ...


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