United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ELECTRICAL CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY PREFUNDING CREDIT REIMBURSEMENT PLAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
COATES ELECTRIC, LLC, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR DEFAULT
JUDGMENT (DKT. NO. 6) AND DISMISSING CASE
PAMELA PEPPER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
3, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a complaint against Coates
Electric, LLC, 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 plaintiff requested entry of default on June 17, 2019,
dkt. no. 5, and the clerk entered default on June 17, 2019.
The plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion for default
judgement, dkt. no. 6, along with affidavits in support of
their request for damages, attorney's fees and costs,
dkt. nos. 6-2 through 6-6. 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 first must seek an
entry of default based on the opposing party's failure to
plead. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). This means that the court must
assure itself that the defendant was aware of the suit and
still did not respond.
plaintiffs filed the complaint on May 3, 2019. Dkt. No. 1. On
May 16, 2019, they filed an affidavit of service. Dkt. No. 4.
The affidavit indicates that a state process server served
the summons and complaint on Brody Coates as registered agent
for the defendant on May 22, 2019. Id. The
defendant's answer was due within twenty-one days of that
date. This means that the defendant's deadline for
answering or otherwise responding to the complaint was June
4(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a
party must serve a corporation:
(1) In a judicial district of the United States:
(A) In the manner prescribed by Rule 4(e)(1) for serving an
(B) By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint
to an officer, a managing or general agent, or any other
agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service
of process and-if the agent is one authorized by statute and
the statute so requires-by also mailing a copy of each to the
Rule 4(h). On the facts before it, the court finds that the
plaintiff properly served the defendant under Rule
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
the entry of default, the plaintiffs may move for default
judgment under Rule 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 district court to
conduct this inquiry through hearings or referrals, if
necessary, to determine the amount of damages. Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(b)(2). 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 the defendant has violated
ERISA by failing to make timely contributions to the
plaintiff trust funds for covered employees in accordance
with the collective bargaining agreements. Dkt. No. 1 at 8.
The complaint also states a claim that the defendant breached
the trust agreement rules, which obligated the defendant to
make timely contributions to the plaintiff trust funds as
required by the collective bargaining agreements.
Id. at 9. Those allegations establish liability.
ERISA entitles the plaintiff to damages consisting of unpaid
contributions, liquidated damages and reasonable
attorney's fees and costs of the action. 29 U.S.C.
motion for entry of default judgement and supporting
affidavits contain an accounting of the plaintiffs'
damages, attorney's fees and costs. See Dkt.
Nos. 6-2 through 6-6. The plaintiffs submitted itemized
attorney's fees in the amount of $3, 225, dkt no. 6-5 at
2, and costs in the amount of $470, dkt. no 6-6 at 2. They
also submitted an affidavit (attaching several agreements
between parties) reporting the results of audits covering the
periods of 2017, October 2018, and November 2018 through May
2019. Dkt. No. 6-3. The court concludes that the defendant
owes plaintiffs $579, 332.67 in delinquent contributions,
omissions, credits, liquidated damages, and estimated monthly