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Trustees of Detroit Carpenters Fringe Benefit Funds v. Andrus Acoustical, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 27, 2017

TRUSTEES OF THE DETROIT CARPENTERS FRINGE BENEFIT FUNDS, Plaintiffs,
v.
ANDRUS ACOUSTICAL, INC., a Michigan Corporation, STERLING MILLWORK, INC., a Michigan Corporation, ALAN ANDRUS, an individual, and MARK BOLITHO, an individual, jointly and severally, Defendants.

          FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW FOLLOWING BENCH TRIAL ON DAMAGES

          Paul D. Borman, United States District Judge

         On March 22, 2017, following a four-day bench trial on the issue of liability, this Court entered its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, awarding judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on their claim for unpaid fringe benefits against Defendants Andrus Acoustical, Inc. (“Andrus”), Sterling Millwork Inc. (“Sterling”), Alan Andrus and Mark Bolitho, under an alter ego theory of liability. Trustees of the Detroit Carpenters Fringe Benefit Funds v. Andrus Acoustical, et al., No. 11-cv-14656, 2016 WL 1125594 (E.D. Mich. March 22, 2016). The Court found the Defendants jointly and severally responsible for the unpaid fringe benefit contributions based upon the fraudulent conduct of the Sterling/Andrus alter ego entity. (ECF No. 87, Amended Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law) (“Liability FFCs”.)

         Following the parties' unsuccessful efforts to settle on damages following the liability ruling, the Court conducted a two-day bench trial, on July 17-18, 2017, on damages. The parties filed Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on damages, and Plaintiffs filed a Reply. (ECF Nos. 105, 109, 110.) Following are the Court's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on the issue of damages.

         A. Stipulations and Matters Still in Dispute

         1. Plaintiffs seek damages in the amount of $1, 147, 534.36, representing unpaid fringe benefit contributions in the amount of $297, 567.10 and prejudgment interest in the amount of $424, 983.63, plus $424, 983.63 - the greater of liquidated damages of 20% of outstanding benefits or interest on the unpaid contributions - plus a reasonable attorney fee yet to be determined. Plaintiffs' damages are based on unpaid fringe benefits on the following eight (8) jobs, performed by the Sterling/Andrus alter ego, that were the subject of extensive testimony and evidence during liability phase of the trial: Laurel Park, Mitchell's Ocean Club/Ocean Prime, Flagstar Bank Ann Arbor, Plum Market Ann Arbor, Plum Market West Bloomfield, Teriyaki Experience, Minute Suites Philadelphia, Detroit Metropolitan Airport Phases I-IV (“Detroit Airport”). (ECF No. 103, Damages Trial Tr. Vol. I, p. 10:1-11; Plaintiffs' Damages Trial Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (“Pls.' DPFCs.”) ¶ 26.) Each of these jobs, apart from Mitchell's/Ocean Prime, is identified on Plaintiff's Damages Trial Exhibit (“Pls.' DTE”) 154.

         2. The parties have stipulated, for purposes of calculating damages, that the “field” carpentry and “millwork” carpentry audits, set forth in Plaintiffs' Damages Trial Exhibits (“Pls.' DTE”) 205 and 206 respectively, are properly calculated and that the prejudgment interest as calculated by Plaintiffs (Pls.' DTE 211) is properly calculated. (ECF No. 102, Stipulations of Parties ¶¶ 1-3, Exs. A-C.) Although the parties dispute whether these amounts are properly awarded under the Court's alter ego liability ruling, the audits establish that the following amounts, if found by the Court to be due and owing, are properly calculated:

• Laurel Park Food Court
$35, 868.37 (carpentry)
$22, 185.47 (carpentry millwork)
$87, 842.42 (prejudgment Interest)
• Mitchell's Ocean Club/Ocean Prime
$43, 014.13 (carpentry millwork)
$65, 080.29 (prejudgment interest)
• Flagstar Bank Ann Arbor
$7, 062.76 (carpentry)
$244.49 (carpentry millwork)
$11, 056.74 (prejudgment interest)
• Plum Market Ann Arbor
$451.41 (carpentry)
$8111.72 (carpentry millwork)
$12, 957.04 (prejudgment interest)
• Plum Market West Bloomfield
$91, 842.95 (carpentry)
$35, 393.92 (carpentry millwork)
$171, 714.47 (prejudgment interest)
• Teriyaki Experience
$1994.76 (carpentry millwork)
$1929.45 (prejudgment interest)
• Minute Suites Philadelphia
$5974.34 (carpentry millwork)
$5781.74 (prejudgment interest)
• Detroit Airport Phase 1
$6, 794.97 (carpentry)
$14, 322.97 (carpentry millwork)
$31, 753.63 (prejudgment interest)
• Detroit Airport Phase 2
$8996.93 (carpentry)
$1839.71 (carpentry millwork)
$16, 511.14 (prejudgment interest)
• Detroit Airport Phase 3
$2859.02 (carpentry)
$4895.75 (carpentry millwork)
$11, 733.89 (prejudgment interest)
• Detroit Airport Phase 4
$5030.96 (carpentry)
$682.47 (carpentry millwork)
$8622.82 (prejudgment interest)

         3. The Defendants concede that, based on their interpretation of the Court's alter ego liability holding, the Defendants would owe the union fringe benefits in the amount of $66, 613.01 on “field” carpentry work, i.e. carpentry work done at the actual physical location of the construction project, performed on the Laurel Park, Flagstar Bank, and Detroit Airport projects. (ECF No. 107, Defendants' Damages Phase Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (“Defs.' DPFCs”) ¶ 3; Defendants' Damages Trial Exhibit (“Defs.' DTE” 603.)

         4. Defendants disagree, based on their interpretation of the Court's alter ego liability holding, that fringe benefits are due on any “millwork” carpentry, i.e. carpentry work done at the Sterling mill, performed on the Laurel Park, Flagstar Bank, or Detroit Airport jobs under the Court's alter ego holding. (Defs.' DPFCs ¶ 4.)

         5. Defendants further disagree, based on their interpretation of the Court's alter ego liability holding, that any fringe benefits, either for field carpentry or carpentry millwork, are due on any of the remaining five (5) jobs: Mitchell's Ocean Club/Ocean Prime, Plum Market Ann Arbor, Plum Market West Bloomfield, Teriyaki Experience, or Minute Suites Philadelphia. (Defs.' DPFCs ¶ 4.)

         6. The Court finds, as summarized below and as clearly set forth in its Amended Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law from the liability phase of the trial, that the Court's Sterling/Andrus alter ego liability holding applies to each of these 8 jobs and applies to all covered carpentry work as defined in the Andrus Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”), whether performed by the Sterling/Andrus alter ego entity in the field or in the mill, on each of these eight jobs. There is no dispute that the nature of both the field and millwork carpentry at issue in this action would be “covered carpentry work” under the Andrus CBA.

         B. ...


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