The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jerome B. Simandle
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Teamsters Health & Welfare Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity & Teamsters Pension Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity's ("Plaintiffs") motion for default judgment, filed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). [Docket Item 6.] For the reasons expressed below, the Court will grant Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment and award a default judgment of $72,953.22.
Plaintiffs, Teamsters Health & Welfare Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity ("Health Fund") and Teamsters Pension Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity ("Pension Fund"), are multi-employer benefit funds within the meaning of Section 302(c)(5) of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5), and Section 3(3) and 3(7) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"). Complaint ¶ 4. Plaintiffs receive and administer contributions from various contractors who are obligated to make contributions based on collective bargaining agreements with various local unions affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, including Local 107 ("the Union"). Id. Plaintiffs' offices are located in New Jersey. Id.
Defendant, Dubin Paper Co., is a Pennsylvania corporation. Id. at ¶ 5. Defendant's employees who are represented by the Union are participants in and beneficiaries of the Health and Pension Funds. Id. at ¶ 6. Defendant is party to a collective bargaining agreement with the Union ("the Collective Bargaining Agreement" or "the Agreement"), and the Agreement requires Defendant to make timely monthly contributions to the Health and Pension Funds for each full hour worked by each employee. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. Liquidated damages in the amount of 10% are imposed on late payments. [Docket Item 1, ¶ 14.] In 2011 and 2012, Defendant failed to make contributions and pay liquidated damages to the Health and Pension Funds in the total amount of $69,649.14, which includes:
2011 Health Fund liquidated damages $11,112.87 2011 Pension Fund liquidated damages $19,304.15 2012 Health Fund contributions $14,979.65 2012 Health Fund liquidated damages $1,497.96 2012 Pension Fund contributions $20,685.92 2012 Pension Fund liquidated damages $2,068.59 Summ. of Audit Results, Attached as Ex. A to Pls.' Mot. Default J.
On December 8, 2011, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Defendant alleging claims for breach of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and violations of Section 515 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1145. [Docket Item 1, ¶¶ 10-20.] Defendant was served on December 19, 2011 [Docket Item 4], but has failed to respond. On March 8, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a request for default, which the Clerk of the Court entered. [Docket Item 5.]
Plaintiffs then moved for default judgment. [Docket Item 6.] Plaintiffs seek unpaid fringe benefit contributions, liquidated damages, and attorney's fees and costs from Defendant. Id. at ¶ 3.
On June 26, 2012, the Court granted Plaintiffs fourteen (14) days to file an amended proof of service showing that service upon the Defendant was adequate. [Docket Item 7.] Plaintiffs filed a certificate of service on July 2, 2012. [Docket Item 8.]
Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2) authorizes the entry of a default judgment against a party that has failed to answer or otherwise respond to the pleadings. Pursuant to Rule 55, obtaining a default judgment is a two-step process. First, when a defendant has failed to plead or otherwise defend, the Clerk of the Court must enter the party's default. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a). Second, a plaintiff may then obtain a default judgment by either: (1) asking the Clerk to enter judgment, if the judgment is a sum certain, or (2) applying to the Court. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b). The decision about whether default judgment is proper "is left primarily to the discretion of the district court." Malik v. Hannah, 661 F. Supp. 2d 485, 490 (D.N.J. 2009) (quoting Hritz v. Woma Corp., 732 F.2d 1178, 1180 (3d Cir. 1984)).
Once a defendant has defaulted, the Court must take as true the factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating to the amount of damages. DIRECTV, Inc. v. Pepe, 431 F.3d 162, 165 n.6 (3d Cir.2005) (citing Comdyne I, 908 F.2d at 1149). Entry of default judgment where damages are not a sum certain requires an application to the Court to prove, inter alia, damages. Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2); Comdyne, 908 F.2d at 1149. Furthermore, liability is not established by default alone. D.B. v. Bloom, 896 F. Supp. 166, 170 n.2 (D.N.J. 1995) (citing 10 C. Wright, A. Miller & M. Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 2681 (2d ed. 1983)).
Before granting a default judgment, the Court must determine (1) whether there is sufficient proof of service, Gold Kist, Inc. v. Laurinburg Oil Co., Inc., 756 F.2d 14, 19 (3d Cir. 1985); (2) whether a sufficient cause of action was stated, Chanel, Inc. v. Gordashevsky, 558 F. Supp. 2d 532, 535 (D.N.J. 2008); and (3) whether ...