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Trustees of Teamsters Pension Trust Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity v. BS Jockey Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 26, 2018



          ROBERT B. KUGLER United States District Judge

         This suit arises from BS Jockey Services, Inc.'s (“Defendant”) alleged failure to pay its withdrawal fee and subsequent settlement agreement under a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between Defendant and Trustees of the Teamsters Pension Trust Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity (“Plaintiff”). Plaintiff brings this suit against Defendant to reduce to judgment the alleged delinquent withdrawal liability. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for entry of default judgment against Defendant (Doc. No. 7). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.


         Plaintiff is a multiemployer pension plan and employee pension benefit plan. (Compl. at 2.; see Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), Sections 3(37), 4001(a)(3), 3(2)(A), (3); 29 U.S.C. §§ 1002(2)(A), (3)). Plaintiff was established, and is continuously maintained, for the purpose of providing retirement and related benefits to eligible participants and beneficiaries and is subject to the withdrawal liability provisions of ERISA. (Id.). Defendant is a Pennsylvania corporation located at 9319 Campus Lane, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Id.). Defendant is-and has been at all times relevant to this action-an employer for the purposes of ERISA. (Compl. at 3; ERISA Section 3(5); 29 U.S.C. § 1002(5)). Defendant participated in, and contributed to, the Fund pursuant to the terms of a CBA between itself and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local No. 470 and its successor, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local No. 107. (Compl. at 3). Participating employers in the Fund are bound by the terms of the Fund. (Id.).

         On or about September 20, 2013, Plaintiff determined that Defendant had effected a complete withdrawal from a fund-as defined in 29 U.S.C. § 1383(a)-during the 2013 plan year. (Id.). On September 20, 2013, Plaintiff demanded payment of Defendant's withdrawal liability, which Plaintiff computed as $30, 246.06. (Id.).[2] On November 26, 2013, after not receiving any payment from Defendant, Plaintiff demanded Defendant begin making its required payments within 60 days. (Id.).

         Sometime in March 2014, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. (Compl. at 4). Defendant acknowledged its obligation to pay its withdrawal liability in the amount demanded. (Compl. at 4).[3] Defendant agreed to do so in monthly payments of $500.00 beginning on March 15, 2014. (Id.). After over three years of complying with this agreement, Defendant stopped making its payments in May, 2017. (Id.). Defendant currently owes $18, 123.91. (Id.).

         Plaintiff brought this action on June 9, 2017, for the balance of the withdrawal liability (count one) and for breach of the settlement agreement (count two). (Compl. at 4-5). Plaintiff has requested this Court enter an order against Defendant for $18, 123.91, plus indeterminate interest, liquidated damages, and reasonable attorneys' fees and litigation costs.

         II. STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2) allows the Court, upon plaintiff's motion, to enter default judgment against a defendant that has failed to plead or otherwise defend a claim for affirmative relief. The Court should accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint by virtue of the defendant's default except for those allegations pertaining to damages. Chanel, Inc. v. Gordashevsky, 448 F.Supp.2d 532, 536 (D.N.J. 2008) (citing Comdyne I, Inc. v. Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142, 1149 (3d Cir. 1990)). The Court also does not adopt Plaintiff's legal conclusions because whether the facts set forth an actionable claim is for the Court to decide. Doe v. Simone, No. 12-5825, 2013 WL 3772532, at *2 (D.N.J. July 17, 2013).

         While the decision to enter default judgment is left principally to the discretion of the district court, there is a well-established preference in the Third Circuit that cases be decided on the merits rather than by default judgment whenever practicable. Hritz v. Woma Corp., 732 F.2d 1178, 1180-81 (3d Cir. 1984). Consequently, the Court must address a number of issues before deciding whether a default judgment is warranted in the instant case. If the Court finds default judgment to be appropriate, the next step is for the Court to determine a proper award of damages.


         A. Appropriateness of Default Judgment

         i. The Court's Jurisdiction

         First, the Court must determine whether it has both subject-matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's cause of action and personal jurisdiction over Defendant. See U.S. Life Ins. Co. in N.Y.C. v. ...

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