United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
EDWARD F. GRODEN, as EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the NEW ENGLAND TEAMSTERS AND TRUCKING INDUSTRY PENSION FUND, Plaintiff,
J. TARTAGLIA TRUCKING, INC., TARTAGLIA TRUCKING CO., INC., TRI CITY PETROLEUM INC., and JESSE TARTAGLIA, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
B. SARIS, Chief United States District Judge
an action for the collection of withdrawal liability under
the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
(“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1461, as
amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of
1980 (“MPPAA”). Edward Groden1 brought suit on
behalf of the New England Teamsters and Trucking Industry
Pension Fund 1 The named plaintiff at the commencement of the
suit was Charles Langone, the fund manager of the New England
Teamsters and Trucking Industry Pension Fund. Upon
Langone's retirement, Groden, the Executive Director of
the Fund, was substituted as plaintiff. (“Fund”)
to collect from J. Tartaglia Trucking, Inc.
(“JTT”). Groden also names as defendants
Tartaglia Trucking Co., Inc. (“TTC”) and Tri City
Petroleum, Inc. (“Tri City”) on the basis that
they are businesses under common control with JTT and
therefore jointly and severally liable for the payment of
Fund moves for summary judgment on Counts I, II, and IV and
moves to dismiss the remaining counts, namely Counts III, V,
VI, and VII. The Fund's motion (Docket No. 50) is
following facts are undisputed except where stated.
Fund is an “employment benefit plan” within the
meaning of section 3(3) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3),
and a “multiemployer plan” within the meaning of
section 3(37)(A) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(37)(A).
Pursuant to the Fund's Agreement and Declaration of Trust
(“Trust Agreement”), the Fund receives pension
contributions from participating employers and provides
pension benefits to eligible employees of those employers.
Contributing employers are obligated to pay into the Fund
pursuant to collective bargaining agreements
(“CBAs”) between the employers and the unions
participating in the Fund. Payments into the Fund must be
accompanied by monthly remittance reports identifying each
employee performing work within the scope of the CBA, the
number of hours worked, and the hourly contribution rate.
a Rhode Island corporation in the business of hauling dirt,
gravel, and asphalt. The sole shareholder was Jesse
began participating in the Fund in 1988. JTT's obligation
to contribute to the Fund arose from a series of CBAs between
JTT and Teamster Local Union 251. The last CBA that JTT
signed expired on April 30, 2003. JTT states that it did not
enter into any subsequent CBA. Nonetheless, JTT continued to
make contributions to the Fund on behalf of its employees
until July 2009, when its last union employee retired.2 The
Fund continued to award pension credit and benefits to the
employees of JTT until 2009 based upon the 2 Even after 2003,
the Fund continued to provide JTT with preprinted remittance
reports for each month.
the preprinted fields of the remittance reports was the
hourly contribution rate. The contribution rate increased
every year that JTT was Dated:to the CBA and, after 2003, the
contribution rate continued to increase annually in the
statewide Rhode Island construction agreement. The preprinted
remittance reports reflected those annual increases even
after 2003, when JTT ceased to be a CBA signatory. The rate
was $4.21 per hour at the time the 2000-2003 CBA expired. The
rate rose to $5.26 per hour by 2008. contributions paid and
the hours of service reported by JTT. Between August 2009 and
August 2013, JTT submitted “no hours” remittance
reports to the Fund.
December 10, 2013, Jesse Tartaglia notified the Fund that JTT
would no longer contribute to the Fund because its last union
employee retired in July 2009.
January 6, 2014, the Fund notified JTT of its withdrawal from
the Fund and demanded payment of JTT's proportionate
share of the Fund's unfunded vested benefit liability.
See 29 U.S.C. § 1399(b)(1). The notice
determined a withdrawal date of August 1, 2009 and calculated
an unpaid withdrawal liability of $544, 308 based on
contributions paid from October 1998 to September 2008.3 In
letters dated March 13 and 17, 2014, JTT requested review of
the withdrawal liability assessment. See Id. §
letter dated April 7, 2014, the Fund responded to the request
for review by confirming the amount of the withdrawal
liability. See id. § 1399(b)(2)(B). The letter
informed JTT that “[i]f you disagree with this
determination, you have the right to dispute the decision 3 A
worksheet attached to the Notice explains the calculation,
which is based on the formula in Article XV of the Fund's
Rules and Regulations. in accordance with the attached
Article XV of the Fund's Rules and Regulations.” In
a letter dated April 14, 2014, JTT requested further review
of the withdrawal liability assessment on the basis of the
construction industry exemption in ERISA section 4203(b), 29
U.S.C. § 1383(b).
letter dated July 7, 2014, the Fund replied with a
determination that JTT was ineligible for the ...