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Trustees of the Iron Workers Local 25 Pension Fund v. Crawford Door Sales

April 16, 2010

TRUSTEES OF THE IRON WORKERS LOCAL 25 PENSION FUND, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CRAWFORD DOOR SALES, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert H. Cleland United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND CONVERTING APRIL 21, 2010 HEARING TO A TELEPHONE CONFERENCE

Before the court is Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, filed on January 19, 2010. The matter has been fully briefed, and the court concludes a hearing is unnecessary. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(e)(2). For the reasons stated below, the court will grant the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs initiated this action on June 19, 2009 under the provisions of the Employees Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. Plaintiffs are funds established under and administered pursuant to § 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186, and ERISA. This action seeks recovery of delinquent fringe benefits allegedly owed by Defendants to Plaintiffs on behalf of the participants of those funds. Plaintiffs contend that Defendants owe money to the funds based upon a contract between the Iron Workers' Local 25 Union and Defendant Crawford Door Sales, Inc. ("Crawford Door" or the "corporate Defendant").

(Pls.' Mot. at 1.) Plaintiffs filed this action against the corporate Defendant, Crawford Door, as well as against two individual Defendants, William Hughes and Todd Hughes. Plaintiffs assert that the two individual Defendants are personally liable for the unpaid contributions because they breached their fiduciary duties to pay those benefits. Discovery has now closed, and Plaintiffs seek summary judgment against the corporate Defendant and Defendant Todd Hughes.

Defendants do not dispute that Defendant Crawford Door entered into the contract, or that Crawford Door owes money for delinquent fringe benefits. (Defs.' Resp. at 1.) Defendants dispute the exact amount owed and whether Todd Hughes is personally liable for the unpaid contributions.

II. STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). "In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, drawing all reasonable inferences in that party's favor." Sagan v. United States, 342 F.3d 493, 497 (6th Cir. 2003). "Where the moving party has carried its burden of showing that the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions and affidavits in the record, construed favorably to the non-moving party, do not raise a genuine issue of material fact for trial, entry of summary judgment is appropriate." Gutierrez v. Lynch, 826 F.2d 1534, 1536 (6th Cir. 1987) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986)).

The court does not "'weigh the evidence [to] determine the truth of the matter but[, rather,] to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Sagan, 342 F.3d at 497(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). The moving party discharges its burden by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Horton v. Potter, 369 F.3d 906, 909 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party, who "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The non-moving party must put forth enough evidence to show that there exists "a genuine issue for trial." Horton, 369 F.3d at 909 (citing Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587). Summary judgment is not appropriate when "the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Crawford Door

First, there is no dispute that Plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment against Crawford Door. Defendants acknowledge this liability in their response brief, and counsel confirmed this on the record during a January 22, 2010 telephonic motion hearing. Defendants, however, dispute the amount owed for the unpaid contributions.

In their opening brief, Plaintiffs state that Defendants did not pay fringe benefit contributions from January 2009 through August 2009 in the amount of $25,556.11. (Pls.' Mot. Br. at 1.) This amount is based upon an audit conducted on September 30, 2009. (Pls.' Ex. 4.) Plaintiffs also contend that Defendants owe $1761.22 for liquidated damages incurred as a result of the audit. (Id.)

The total amount owed by Defendants has been reduced by a subsequent payment from a surety bond. Specifically, Crawford Door maintained a wage and welfare surety bond with Western Surety, which expired on April 15, 2009. (Pls.' Mot. Br. at 2.) After Plaintiffs made a claim, Western Surety paid Plaintiffs $14,889.16. (Id.) Plaintiffs assert that the amount of the bond was applied as follows: $12,581.66 toward the fringe benefits owed, and $2,307.50 for attorney fees and costs incurred by Plaintiffs for efforts to collect the fringe benefit contributions. (Id. at 2-3.) Thus, Plaintiffs argue that they are entitled to $14,735.67. ...


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