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Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs Local 98 Health & Welfare Fund v. S&R Corp.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 23, 2015

INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS LOCAL 98 HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
S& R CORPORATION, Defendant

For International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 Health and Welfare Fund, Internation Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 Pension Fund, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 Annuity Fund, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 and Employers Cooperative Trust, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 Annuity Fund, Pension Fund, Health and Welfare Fund and Joint Training, Retraining, Skill Improvement, Safety Education, Apprenticeship and Training, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98, AFL-CIO,, Barbara Lane, as Administrative Manager, Donald Mason, as Trustee, Eugene P Melville, Jr, as Trustee and as Business Manager, Michael R. Fanning, as Chief Executive Officer, Plaintiffs: Jennifer A. Clark, Kenneth L. Wagner, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Bryan T. Arnault, Blitman & King LLP, Syracuse, NY.

For S& R Corporation, Defendant: John D. O'Reilly, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, O'Reilly, Grosso, & Gross P.C., Framingham, MA.

For S& R Corporation, Counter Claimant: John D. O'Reilly, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, O'Reilly, Grosso, & Gross P.C., Framingham, MA.

For Central Pension Fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers and Participating Employers, Michael R. Fanning, as Chief Executive Officer, Internation Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 Pension Fund, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 Annuity Fund, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 Annuity Fund, Pension Fund, Health and Welfare Fund and Joint Training, Retraining, Skill Improvement, Safety Education, Apprenticeship and Training, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 Health and Welfare Fund, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 and Employers Cooperative Trust, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98, AFL-CIO, Barbara Lane, as Administrative Manager, Donald Mason, as Trustee, Eugene P Melville, Jr, as Trustee and as Business Manager, Counter Defendants: Jennifer A. Clark, Kenneth L. Wagner, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Bryan T. Arnault, Blitman & King LLP, Syracuse, NY.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS AND DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO CONSIDER ARBITRATION AWARD (Dkt. Nos. 72 & 93)

MICHAEL A. PONSOR, United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs[1] bring this action pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (" ERISA" ) as amended, 29 U.S.C. § § 515 & 502(g)(2), and Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947(" LMRA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 185, to compel Defendant S& R Corporation to produce certain unredacted books and records for audit. The complaint offers two counts: Count I for failure and refusal to produce all of its books and records for an audit, as required under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and Declarations of Trust, as well as for payment of any contributions determined to be delinquent as a result of the audit; and Count II for equitable relief, enjoining Defendant from violating the Agreement, the Trust policies, and ERISA and compelling Defendant to produce the requested records and to pay any delinquent contributions.

Plaintiffs have filed a motion for partial summary judgment, attorneys' fees, and costs. (Dkt. No. 72.) Defendant opposes and has also filed a motion requesting the court to consider a recent arbitration award between the parties. (Dkt. No. 93.) For the reasons that follow, the court will allow Plaintiffs' motion and deny Defendant's motion.

II. BACKGROUND

The facts are recited in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.

A. Facts

In June 2010, Defendant entered into a CBA with the Union (the Hoisting & Portable Engineers, Local 98 and the International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO).[2] Defendant committed to participating in several trust funds, including the Plaintiff Funds. The Funds' declaration gave to the Trustees of the Funds the " right to inspect at all reasonable times, the individual payroll records and such other records of an Employer as are deemed necessary and pertinent to determine whether such Employer is making due and full payment of its Employer Contributions." (Dkt. No. 12, Attach. 1 at 10.) Defendant agreed " to be bound by the [CBA] and Declaration of Trust entered into as of September 7, 1960, establishing the Central Pension Fund of the [Union] and by any amendments to said Trust Agreement." (Id. at 11.)

The CBA also contained provisions governing situations when the Trustees of the Fund could not agree. Under those circumstances, " the arbitration provisions contained in the Pension Protection Act will be activated and implemented on a timely basis. Additionally, any applicable dispute mechanisms provided for in the Funds Trust Agreements may be utilized." (Id. at 12.) The arbitration provisions of the CBA state that " [i]n any case of violation, misunderstanding, disagreement or difference in the interpretation of this [CBA] by either party, either party shall refer the matter to the Business Agent." (Dkt. No. 12, Attach. 1 at 19.) If the Business Agent's decision does not settle the misunderstanding, either party may refer the matter to the Grievance Committee. If this committee cannot reach an agreement, it shall choose an Umpire to make a final decision. If the committee cannot agree upon an Umpire, " the matter in dispute shall be referred to the American Arbitration Association." (Id.)

Each of the Plaintiff Trusts has a " Restated Agreement and Declaration of Trust" memorializing the agreements between the Union and all Employers who are or become parties to the plan.[3](See, e.g., Dkt. No. 31, Attach. 2 at 9.) The Trust agreements give the Trustees, or their duly-appointed representative, " the power to demand, collect and receive Employer payments and all other money and property to which the Trustees may be entitled." (Id. at 10.) Trustees are also empowered to institute legal or administrative proceedings for the purpose of collecting such payments, money and property, should they determine that institution of these proceedings is in the best interest of the Trust. (Id. at 10-11.) For the purposes of proper trust oversight, Employers must promptly furnish on demand whatever information the Trustees " may reasonably require in connection with the administration of the Trust Fund." (Id. at 11.) Finally, the trust documents provide a collections policy, which states that an ...


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