United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
OPERATING ENGINEERS LOCAL 139 HEALTH BENEFIT FUND, CENTRAL PENSION FUND OF THE INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS AND PARTICIPATING EMPLOYERS, WISCONSIN OPERATING ENGINEERS SKILL IMPROVEMENT AND APPRENTICESHIP FUND, JOINT LABOR MANAGEMENT WORK RESERVATION FUND, TERRANCE E. MCGOWAN, MICHAEL A. CRABTREE, and INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS LOCAL 139, Plaintiffs,
FINNDRILL, INC., Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT (DKT. NO.
PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
October 25, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a complaint against
Finndrill Inc., alleging violations of the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”),
29 U.S.C. §§1132, 1145, and breach of contract.
Dkt. No. 1. The plaintiffs requested entry of default on
December 12, 2018, dkt. no. 7, and the clerk entered default
on December 13, 2018. The plaintiffs subsequently filed a
motion for default judgment, dkt. no. 13, along with
affidavits in support of their request for damages and
attorney's fees, dkt. nos. 16-19. To date, the defendant
has not appeared. The court will grant the motion.
ENTRY OF DEFAULT
Rule of Civil Procedure 55 requires a two-step process before
the entry of default judgment. A party must first seek an
entry of default based on the opposing party's failure to
plead. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). This means the court must assure
itself that the defendant was aware of the suit and still did
plaintiffs filed the complaint on October 25, 2018. Dkt. No.
1. On November 19, 2018, the plaintiffs filed an affidavit of
service. Dkt. No. 5. The affidavit indicated that the process
server served the summons and complaint on Patrick Garven on
November 13, 2018. Id. The defendant's answer
was due within twenty-one days of that date. This means the
defendant's deadline for answering or otherwise
responding to the complaint was December 4, 2018.
February 26, 2019 the plaintiffs filed a status report
informing the court that their auditor had audited the
defendant's books and records on February 19, 2019, and
the plaintiffs received the audit results on February 21,
2019. Dkt. No. 11. On March 7, 2019 plaintiffs filed a motion
for entry of judgment. Dkt. No. 13.
PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
the entry of default, a plaintiff may move for default
judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). When the court determines
that a defendant is in default, the court accepts as true the
well-pleaded allegations in the complaint. e360 Insight
v. The Spamhaus Project, 500 F.3d 594, 602 (7th Cir.
2007). “A default judgment establishes, as a matter of
law, that defendants are liable to plaintiff on each cause of
action in the complaint.” Id. However,
“even when a default judgment is warranted based on a
party's failure to defend, the allegations in the
complaint with respect to the amount of damages are not
deemed true.” Id. (quoting In re
Catt, 38 F.3d 789, 793 (7th Cir. 2004). A district court
“must conduct an inquiry in order to ascertain the
amount of damages with reasonable certainty.”
Id. Rule 55(b)(2) allows the court to conduct this
inquiry through hearings or referrals, if necessary, to
determine the amount of damages. Such proceedings are
unnecessary, however, if the “amount claimed is
liquidated or capable of ascertainment from definite figures
contained in the documentary evidence or in detailed
affidavits. e360 Insight, 500 F.3d at 602 (quoting
Dundee Cement Co. v. Howard Pipe & Concrete Prods.
Inc., 722 F.2d 1319, 1323 (7th Cir. 1983)).
complaint states a claim that defendant Finndrill, Inc.
violated ERISA and the effective collective bargaining
agreement by failing to pay fringe benefit contributions on
behalf of its employees to the plaintiff funds. Those
allegations establish liability. ERISA entitles the
plaintiffs to damages consisting of unpaid contributions,
interest on the unpaid contributions, liquidated damages and
reasonable attorney's fees and costs of the action. 29
motion for entry of judgment and supporting affidavits
contain an accounting of the plaintiff's damages. Dkt.
Nos. 13, 16, 17, 19. The plaintiffs submitted itemized
attorneys' fees in the amount of $1, 814, dkt. no. 16,
and $421.25, dkt. no. 17. They also submitted an affidavit
with numerous supporting attachments for audits covering the
periods from December 1, 2015 through December 31, 2017 and
January 1, 2018 through January 31, 2019.
Nos. 19 through 19-8. The court FINDS that
the defendant owes the plaintiffs: $69, 533.22 for
contributions, $20, 034.04 for delinquent payment assessments
and $6, 048.97 for interest. In addition, the court
APPROVES an award of $2, 235.25 in
attorneys' fees and costs. The amount of unpaid
contributions, interest, liquidated damages, and
attorney's fees totals $97, 851.48, plus post judgment
courts GRANTS the motion for entry of
judgment. Dkt. No. 13.
court ORDERS that the clerk of court shall
enter judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, and against the
defendant, in the amount of $97, 851.48, ...