United States District Court, D. New Jersey
TRUSTEES OF THE REFRIGERATION & AIR CONDITIONING SERVICE DIVISION (USA-NJ) PENSION FUND, WELFARE FUND, ANNUITY FUND and EDUCATION FUND, et al., Plaintiffs
R&M AIR SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendant.
MADELINE COX ARLEO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff Trustees
of the Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Service Division
(UA-NJ) Pension Fund, Welfare Fund, Annuity Fund and
Education Fund (the “Trustees”) and the New
Jersey Committee Representing the United Association of
Plumbers and Pipefitters of the United States and
Canada's (the “Funds”) (together,
“Plaintiffs”) motion for default judgment against
Defendant R&M Air Solutions, LLC
(“Defendant”) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(b). ECF No. 8. For the reasons set forth herein,
the motion is GRANTED.
ERISA matter arises from Defendant R&M's alleged
failure to remit payments to Plaintiffs in accordance with
the terms of its Collective Bargaining Agreement (the
“CBA”) between Plaintiff Funds and Defendant.
are trust funds established pursuant to the Labor Management
Relations Act (“LMRA”) Section 302(c)(5), 29
U.S.C. § 186(c)(5), and are employee benefit plans
established and maintained pursuant to the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”),
29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. for the purpose of
providing pension, welfare, annuity, and other benefits to
eligible participants. Compl. ¶ 5, ECF No. 1. The Funds
are authorized to sue in their own names pursuant to Section
502(d)(1) of ERISA, 29. U.S.C. § 1132(d)(1).
Id. ¶ 6. The Trustees are fiduciaries of the
Funds within the meaning of Section 3(21) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C.
§ 1002(21)(A) with respect to the collection of
contributions due to the Funds. Id. ¶ 7.
Funds maintain their principal place of business in West
Trenton, NJ. Id. ¶ 8. Defendant is a business
located in Avenel, New Jersey. Id. ¶ 10. It is
an employer within the meaning of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §
relevant times, Defendant was a party to an Inside Agreement
with one or more local unions or district councils affiliated
with the Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Service
Division (UA-NJ) Pension Fund, Welfare Fund, annuity Fund and
Education Fund and the New Jersey Committee representing the
United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters of the United
States and Canada (the “Union”). Id.
¶ 14. At all relevant times, Defendant was also a party
to the Agreements and Declarations of Trust (“Trust
Agreements”) that govern the Funds, as well as the
Policy for Collection of Fringe Benefit Contributions (the
“Policy”). Id. ¶ 15. Pursuant to
ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1145, and the terms of the Inside
Agreement, the Trust Agreements, and the Policy, Defendant
agreed to: (1) remit fringe benefit contributions to the
Funds in a timely manner; (2) submit monthly remittance
reports to the Funds; (3) produce, upon request by the Funds,
all books and records deemed necessary to conduct an audit of
Defendant's records concerning its obligation to the
Funds; (4) pay liquidated damages, interest, audit costs, and
attorneys' fees expended by the Funds to collect any
amounts due as a consequence of Defendant's alleged
breach. Id. ¶ 16.
allege that Defendant has failed to remit the total amount of
employee contributions that are due to the Funds on behalf of
eligible employees for the period of July 1, 2016 through
August 31, 2016. Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiffs allege
that they have demanded payment from Defendant several times
to no avail. Id. ¶ 18.
initiated this lawsuit on October 13, 2016, asserting ERISA
violations and seeking damages for: (1) all contributions due
and owing to the Funds; (2) interest on the delinquent
contributions; and (3) liquidated damages. See
Compl. ¶ 21. Plaintiffs also sought specific performance
and attorneys' fees. Id. After Defendant failed
to appear, the Clerk entered default on November 17, 2016.
See ECF Text Order dated November 17, 2016.
Plaintiffs then filed the instant motion for Default
Judgment, seeking an award of $4, 733.63 in delinquent
contributions, interest, and liquidated damages, and $1,
395.99 in attorneys' fees and costs for a total of $6,
129.62. Affidavit of Steven J. Bushinsky (“Bushinsky
Aff.”) ¶¶ 9-15, ECF No. 8-1.
Standard of Review
“The district court has the discretion to enter default
judgment, although entry of default judgments is disfavored
as decisions on the merits are preferred.” Animal
Sci. Prods., Inc. v. China Nat'l Metals & Minerals
Imp. & Exp. Corp., 596 F.Supp.2d 842, 847 (D.N.J.
2008). Before 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. See
Chanel, Inc. v. Gordashevsky, 558 F.Supp.2d 532, 535-36
(D.N.J. 2008); Wilmington Savings Fund Soc., FSB v. Left
Field Props., LLC, No. 10-4061, 2011 WL 2470672, at *1
(D.N.J. June 20, 2011). Although the facts pled in the
Complaint are accepted as true for the purpose of determining
liability, the plaintiff must prove damages. See Comdyne
I, Inc. v. Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142, 1149 (3d Cir. 1990).
prior to granting default judgment, the Court must make
explicit factual findings as to: (1) whether the party
subject to the default has a meritorious defense; (2) the
prejudice suffered by the party seeking default judgment; and
(3) the culpability of the party subject to default. Doug
Brady, Inc. v. N.J. Bldg. Laborers Statewide Funds, 250
F.R.D. 171, 177 (D.N.J. 2008).