United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters National Pension Fund; George Tedeschi, Trustee; and Malcom Pritzker, Trustee, Plaintiffs,
Adgravers, Inc., Defendant.
R. Grand United States Magistrate Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR
ATTORNEY FEES 
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN United States District Judge.
an Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)
action. Plaintiffs represent a pension fund and seek to
collect delinquent withdrawal liability payments from the
Defendant. ECF No. 1 at 1 (Pg. ID 1). On September 2, 2016,
the Clerk of Court entered default judgement against the
Defendant in the amount of $177, 072.48. ECF No. 13.
Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Post-Judgment
Motion for Attorney Fees. ECF No. 15 at 2 (Pg. ID 156).
Plaintiffs seek a total of $16, 251.00 in fees. For reasons
discussed below, the Court will GRANT Plaintiffs' Motion
for Attorney Fees .
Plaintiffs, Graphic Communications Conference of the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters National Pension Fund
(hereinafter “the Fund”), George Tedeschi, and
Malcom Pritzker bring this action against the Defendant,
Adgravers, Inc. (hereinafter “Adgravers”). ECF
No. 1 at 2. Mr. Tedeschi and Mr. Pritzker are Co-Chairmen of
the Board of Trustees of the Fund. Id. Adgravers is
engaged in the business of commercial printing in Detroit
Michigan. Id. at 3.
to the Plaintiffs, the Fund is funded by contributions and
investment income from various employers in accordance with
negotiated collective bargaining agreements. Id. The
Fund holds all contributions for the exclusive purpose of
providing pension and disability benefits and paying
Administrative expenses. Id. Adgravers participates
in the Fund in accordance with a series of collective
bargaining agreements. Id. at 3-4.
claim that pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§ 1382, 1385, and
1399, “when certain conditions are met, a multiemployer
plan must assess withdrawal liability to each participating
employer that has a partial withdrawal from the Fund.”
Id. at 4. According to Plaintiffs, withdrawal
liability was assessed against Adgravers because of a
70-percent contribution decline. See 29 U.S.C.
§ 1385. Id. In accordance with 29 U.S.C. §
1399(b), the Fund notified Adgravers of the assessed
withdrawal liability in the amount of $166, 097.53.
Id. Adgravers was required to make payments to
satisfy the withdrawal liability. Id. From May 2013
to January 2016, Adgravers made intermittent and sometimes
untimely payments to the Fund. Id. at 4-5. According
to the Fund, Adgravers is in default within the meaning 29
U.S.C. §1399(c)(5). Id. at 7. As a result of
the default, the Fund initiated litigation to recover payment
of the outstanding amount plus accrued interest.
4, 2016, Donald Scharg of Bodman PLC filed his appearance on
behalf of the Defendant. ECF No. 6. However, neither Mr.
Scharg nor any other representative on behalf of the
Defendant has responded to the Complaint or Motion for
Attorney Fees in this case. On September 2, 2016, the Clerk
of Court entered default judgement against the Defendant in
the amount of $177, 072.48. ECF No. 13. On October 11, 2016,
Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Attorney Fees. ECF No. 15.
the United States, parties are ordinarily required to bear
their own attorney's fees”. Buckhannon Bd.
& Care Home, Inc. v. W. Virginia Dep't of Health
& Human Res., 532 U.S. 598, 602 (2001). As a general
practice, awarding fees to a prevailing party requires
“explicit statutory authority.” Id.
“[T]he [ERISA] statute provides that ‘the court
in its discretion may allow a reasonable
attorney's fee and costs of action to either
party.'” Foltice v. Guardsman Prod., Inc.,
98 F.3d 933, 936 (6th Cir. 1996) (emphasis in original)
(citing ERISA § 502(g)(1); 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1)).
Therefore, the Court has discretion to award attorney fees in
exercising the discretion vested in the district court by 29
U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1), [the Sixth Circuit has] said, the
district court should consider the following five factors:
(1) the degree of the opposing party's culpability or bad
(2) the opposing party's ability to satisfy an award of