United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
RICHARD P. GAMBINO, et al., Plaintiffs,
RADIANT ELECTRIC, LLC, Defendant, and PEOPLE'S UNITED BANK, N.A., Trustee.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON AMENDED MOTION FOR DEFAULT
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
filed this action on behalf of employee benefit funds seeking
to recover unpaid contributions and other amounts due under
the applicable employee benefit plans and collective
bargaining agreement. Defendant Radiant Electric, LLC
(“Radiant”), an employer participating in the
plans, has defaulted, having failed to appear or otherwise
defend in this action. [ECF No. 9]. Currently pending before
the Court is Plaintiffs' amended motion for a default
judgment against Radiant. [ECF No. 15]. For the following
reasons, the motion is GRANTED.
the entry of a default, “the facts alleged in the
complaint are taken as true.” Plasterers' and
Cement Masons' Local 40 Pension Fund v. D & M
Concrete Finishing, No. 12-256, 2013 WL 2432420, at *1
(D.R.I. June 4, 2013) (quoting Queally v. Estate of
Hoviss, No. 10-002, 2011 WL 6026593, at *1 (D.R.I. Dec.
2, 2011)); see Franco v. Selective Ins. Co., 184
F.3d 4, 9 n.3 (1st Cir. 1999) (defaulted party is
“taken to have conceded the truth of the factual
allegations in the complaint as establishing the grounds for
liability as to which damages will be calculated”).
Accordingly, the following summary of facts is drawn from the
Plaintiffs' complaint, with certain details sourced from
the supplemental documentation submitted in support of the
amended motion for additional context.
are the administrators of employee welfare and pension
benefit plans for the International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers Local 103 (“Union”), each of which meets
the definition of a “multiemployer plan” under
the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
(“ERISA”). [ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 3-8, 11]
(“Complaint”); [ECF No. 16 at 2]. Radiant and the
Union are also parties to a collective bargaining agreement
[ECF No. 1-2] (“CBA”) that requires Radiant to
make monthly contributions to the Funds, based on the hours
worked by Radiant's covered employees, and to deduct and
remit working dues to the Union. Compl. ¶¶ 11-14.
In August 2016, Plaintiffs engaged an independent firm to
conduct an audit of Radiant for the period of January 1, 2013
through December 31, 2015. Id. ¶ 17. The
auditor compared Radiant's remittance reports with its
payroll and other internal records detailing the number of
hours worked by Radiant's employees. [ECF No. 16-6 at
1-2]. The audit showed that Radiant underreported the number
of hours worked and it consequently failed to remit working
dues and make principal benefit contributions in the amount
of $46, 648.44. Compl. ¶¶ 17-18; [ECF No. 1-3 at
September 13, 2016, the auditor submitted its findings to
Radiant, and, shortly thereafter, Plaintiffs sent a notice to
Radiant, followed by a written demand, requesting payment of
the amounts owed to the Funds. Compl. ¶¶ 19-20.
Ultimately, Plaintiffs filed the instant complaint asserting
two claims: violation of Section 515 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C.
§ 1145, for failing to make all contributions owed, and
violation of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947
(“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185, for breaching the
CBA. Id. ¶¶ 21-29.
March 13, 2017, a proof of service was returned, showing that
Radiant had been served at its headquarters in New Hampshire.
[ECF No. 5]; see [ECF No. 18] (letter from
Plaintiffs' counsel affirming proper service of process
on Radiant). On April 4, 2017, the deadline expired for
Radiant to respond to the Complaint. Plaintiffs then filed a
motion for the entry of a default against Radiant pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), and the clerk entered a default on June
15, 2017. [ECF No. 9]; see [ECF Nos. 12, 13] (return
receipts following delivery to Radiant of the notice of
month later, Plaintiffs moved for the entry of a default
judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1). [ECF No. 10]. The
Court scheduled a hearing on the motion and explained that
because the damages sought did not constitute a sum certain,
Plaintiffs' motion was not reviewable under Rule
55(b)(1). The Court stated that it would nevertheless
consider the motion under Rule 55(b)(2). [ECF No. 14] (citing
KPS & Assocs., Inc. v. Designs By FMC, Inc., 318
F.3d 1, 1920 (1st Cir. 2003)). On November 29, 2017,
Plaintiffs filed an amended motion for a default judgment
with supplemental briefing and documentation. [ECF Nos. 15,
16]. The Court held the hearing on the amended motion on
December 6, 2017. [ECF No. 17]. Radiant did not attend the
hearing and has not appeared at any point in this action.
initial matter, the Court “has an affirmative duty to
assure itself that it has jurisdiction over both the subject
matter and the parties” before entering a default
judgment. Plasterers' and Cement Masons' Local 40
Pension Fund v. Capital Curbing Corp., No. 09-236, 2010
WL 1424722, at *2 (D.R.I. Mar. 12, 2010), aff'd and
adopted, 2010 WL 1376293 (D.R.I. Apr. 6, 2010). Because
ERISA and LMRA are federal statutes, the Court has subject
matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1331. Id.; see United Elec,
Radio and Mach. Workers of America v. 163 Pleasant Street
Corp., 960 F.2d 1080, 1085 (1st Cir. 1992) (citing 29
U.S.C. §§ 185(c), 1132(e)(1) as “establishing
subject matter jurisdiction under LMRA and ERISA,
respectively”). As to personal jurisdiction,
“[a]ny district court in which a plaintiff brings an
action under Title I of ERISA will have personal jurisdiction
over the defendant, if the defendant is properly served and
has sufficient minimum contacts with the United
States.” Capital Curbing Corp., 2010 WL
1424722, at *3 (quoting Central States, Southeast &
Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Phencorp Reinsurance Co.,
Inc., 440 F.3d 870, 875 (7th Cir. 2006)); see United
Elec, 960 F.2d at 1085 (where the court has federal
question subject matter jurisdiction, “the Constitution
requires only that the defendant have the requisite
‘minimum contacts' with the United States, rather
than with the particular forum state (as would be required in
a diversity case)”). “Furthermore, sufficient
contacts exist whenever the defendant is served within the
sovereign territory of the United States pursuant to a
federal statute or civil rule.” Univ. of Mass.
Medical Ctr. v. C & M Corp., 16 F.Supp.2d 110, 111
(D. Mass. 1998) (citing United Elec, 960 F.2d at
1085-86). “ERISA provides for nationwide service of
process, and [Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(C)] constitutes the
mechanism for exercising such extraterritorial
service.” Id. at 112. Here, a return of
service was filed on March 23, 2017 and Plaintiffs'
counsel subsequently affirmed by letter to the Court that
Radiant was served with a summons and a copy of the
Complaint. [ECF Nos. 5, 18]; see Blair v. City of
Worcester, 522 F.3d 105, 111 (1st Cir. 2008) (“A
return of service generally serves as prima facie
evidence that service was validly performed.”).
“By virtue of the fact that [Radiant] was lawfully
served within the United States pursuant to a federal
statute, under the law of this circuit, this Court has
personal jurisdiction over [Radiant].” C & M
Corp., 16 F.Supp.2d at 112 (citing United Elec,
960 F.2d at 1085-86). Thus, the Court has both subject matter
jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction over this action.
Liability and Damages
motion for a default judgment, the Court considers “all
well-pleaded factual allegations as true . . . to determine
whether [the complaint] alleges a cause of action.”
Ramos-Falcon v. Autoridad de Energia Electrica, 301
F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 2002). Here, Plaintiffs “have
adequately pleaded that [Radiant's] failure to contribute
to the Funds and to remit dues to [the Union] are violations
of the [benefit plans] and CBA, and [are] thus violations of
ERISA [and] the LMRA.” D & M Concrete
Finishing, 2013 WL 2432420, at *2. Because Radiant has
not responded to the entry of a default against it, the entry
of a default judgment is now appropriate. Id.
a default judgment constitutes an admission of liability, the
quantum of damages remains to be established by proof . . .
.” KPS & Assocs., Inc., 318 F.3d at 19
(quoting Flaks v. Koegel, 504 F.2d 702, 707 (2d Cir.
1974)). In relevant part, ERISA provides that in an action to
enforce an ...