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Trustees of New Jersey B.A.C. Health Fund v. RDM Concrete & Masonry LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 26, 2017

TRUSTEES OF THE NEW JERSEY B.A.C. HEALTH FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
RDM CONCRETE & MASONRY LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MARY L. COOPER, United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on a motion for default judgment against Defendant RDM Concrete & Masonry LLC (“RDM”) by Plaintiffs: (1) Trustees of the New Jersey B.A.C. Health Fund (the “Health Fund”); (2) Trustees of the New Jersey B.A.C. Annuity Fund (the “Annuity Fund”); (3) Trustees of the B.A.C. Local 5 of New Jersey Pension Fund (the “Local 5 Pension Fund”); (4) Trustees of the New Jersey BM&P Apprentice and Education Fund (the “Apprentice Fund”); (5) Trustees of the Bricklayers & Trowel Trades International Pension Fund (the “International Pension Fund”); (6) Trustees of the International Masonry Institute (the “IMI”); and (7) Richard Tolson as Administrator of and on behalf of the B.A.C. Administrative District Council of New Jersey (the “Union”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”). (Dkt. 6.)[1] We have reviewed the parties' submissions, and decide the motion without oral argument. See L. Civ. R. 78.1(b). For the reasons that follow, we will grant the Plaintiffs' motion.

         I. Background

         This case arises out of RDM's alleged failure to meet its obligations under a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between RDM and the Union. (Dkt. 1 at 5.) The CBA establishes the terms and conditions of employment for employees of RDM working as bricklayers, cement masons, plasterers, pointer caulkers, cleaners, fire proofers, stone masons, brick pavers, and exterior marble masons (“Covered Work”). (Id.) In particular, the CBA provides that RDM must make specified contributions to the Health Fund, the Annuity Fund, the Local 5 Pension Fund, the Apprentice Fund, the International Pension Fund, and the IMI (collectively, the “Funds”) and forward specified dues check-offs and other contributions to the Union for each hour of Covered Work performed by RDM's employees. (Id.) This case arises out of work performed by RDM employees in May 2016 on a project in Jamesburg, New Jersey. (Id.) According to the Complaint, RDM failed to make $8, 706.77 in required contributions to the Funds and failed to remit $952.41 in required dues check-offs to the Union in connection with that project. (Id.)

         The Plaintiffs moved for entry of default after RDM failed to timely respond to the Complaint. (See dkt. 5.) The Clerk of the Court entered default in favor of the Plaintiffs in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). (See entry following dkt. 5.) The Plaintiffs have now moved for default judgment against RDM in favor of the Funds for $8, 706.77 (plus interest, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees and costs), and in favor of the Union for $952.41. (Dkt. 1 at 7; dkt. 7.)

         II. Legal Standard

         “Once a party has defaulted, the consequence is that the factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating to the amount of damages, will be taken as true.” Teamsters Pension Fund of Phila. & Vicinity v. Am. Helper, Inc., No. 11-624, 2011 WL 4729023, at *2 (D.N.J. Oct. 5, 2011) (quoting DIRECTV, Inc. v. Pepe, 431 F.3d 162, 165 n.6 (3d Cir. 2005)). “The entry of a default judgment is largely a matter of judicial discretion, although the Third Circuit has emphasized that such ‘discretion is not without limits, however, and [has] repeatedly state[d] [its] preference that cases be disposed of on the merits whenever practicable.'” Chanel, Inc. v. Gordashevsky, 558 F.Supp.2d 532, 535 (D.N.J. 2008) (quoting Hritz v. Woma Corp., 732 F.2d 1178, 1181 (3d Cir. 1984)).

         Prior to entering default judgment, the court must: “(1) determine it has jurisdiction both over the subject matter and parties; (2) determine whether defendants have been properly served; (3) analyze the complaint to determine whether it sufficiently pleads a cause of action; and (4) determine whether the plaintiff has proved damages.” Moroccanoil, Inc. v. JMG Freight Grp. LLC, No. 14-5608, 2015 WL 6673839, at *1 (D.N.J. Oct. 30, 2015). Additionally, the Court must consider the following three factors: “(1) prejudice to the plaintiff if default is denied, (2) whether the defendant appears to have a litigable defense, and (3) whether defendant's delay is due to culpable conduct.” Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 164 (3d Cir. 2000); see also Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Starlight Ballroom Dance Club, Inc., 175 F.App'x 519, 522 (3d Cir. 2006).

         III. Analysis

         A. Jurisdiction

         “Before entering a default judgment as to a party that has not filed responsive pleadings, the district court has an affirmative duty to look into its jurisdiction both over the subject matter and the parties.” HICA Educ. Loan Corp. v. Surikov, No. 14-145, 2015 WL 273656, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 22, 2015) (internal quotations omitted).

         We find that we have subject matter jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs' claims under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e) (granting federal district courts jurisdiction over ERISA claims); 29 U.S.C. § 185 (granting jurisdiction in the federal district where the labor organization maintains its principal office); and 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (granting “federal question” jurisdiction over actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States). See Trustees of the New Jersey B.A.C. Health Fund v. Bryant Caulking & Waterproofing, Inc., No. 15-8359, 2017 WL 784944, at *2 (D.N.J. Mar. 1, 2017).

         We also find that we have specific personal jurisdiction over RDM. Establishing specific jurisdiction involves a three-part inquiry: (1) whether the defendants purposefully directed their activities at the forum; (2) whether the litigation arises out of or relates to at least one of the contacts; and (3) whether the exercise of jurisdiction otherwise comports with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., Ltd., 496 F.3d 312, 317 (3d Cir. 2007). As recounted in the Complaint, RDM is a New Jersey corporation with a principal place of business in New Jersey. (Dkt. 1 at 4.) The Covered Work giving rise to the Plaintiffs' non-payment claims occurred in New Jersey and involved workers from a union headquartered in New Jersey. (Dkt. 1 at 5.) The undisputed facts show that Plaintiffs' claim and RDM's contacts with New Jersey are sufficient to establish specific jurisdiction, and the Court finds that allowing RDM to be sued in New Jersey does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.

         B. ...


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