United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Michigan BAC Health Care Fund, Trustees of; Michigan BAC Pension Fund, Trustees of; Michigan BAC Apprenticeship & Training Fund, Trustees of; International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Local 2, AFL-CIO; Bricklayers & Trowel Trades International Pension Fund, Trustees of; and International Masonry Institute, Trustees of; Plaintiffs,
Hartley Masonry, Inc.; Kari Lee Hartley; and Kari L Hartley d/b/a/ Hartley Masonry Services, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM ORDER REGARDING DAMAGES
F. COX, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
December 12, 2018, the Court granted summary judgment on the
issue of liability in favor of Plaintiffs and against the
above-captioned Defendants. (ECF No. 62). The Court ordered
supplemental briefing on the issue of damages. The parties
filed supplemental briefs (ECF Nos. 67 and 68), and responses
to their opponents' arguments. (ECF Nos. 71 and 72). The
Court now deals with the issue of damages.
Unpaid Contributions, Interest, and Audit Costs
on the Court-ordered audit of Defendants' books,
Plaintiffs argue that they are entitled to $243, 034.56 in
unpaid fringe benefits contributions, interest, and audit
costs. Defendants do not dispute the accuracy of the audit.
Instead, they argue that the Court should confine its damages
inquiry to unpaid fringe benefits related to commercial work
because the parties never understood the Collective
Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) to extend to
argument contradicts the clear terms of the CBA, which states
that “[t]his Agreement covers all construction work
within the jurisdiction of the International Union.”
(ECF No. 71-2, PageID 2084). The CBA-which the Court has
already determined binds Defendants-makes no distinction
between residential and commercial work.
sure, Defendants point to evidence that Plaintiffs initiated
this suit only after becoming aware that Defendants were
performing commercial work. Plaintiffs, apparently, declined
to enforce the CBA if Defendants performed only residential
work. Further, Defendants' evidence indicates that
Plaintiffs' primary concern during the course of this
litigation might have been unpaid fringe benefits from
commercial work. However, these considerations are parol
evidence, and “parol evidence cannot be admitted if its
effect will be to vary or contradict any matter that is
specifically covered by the written terms of the
contract.” Astor v. International Business Machines
Corp., 7 F.3d 533, 540 (6th Cir. 1993).
Court found that the Defendants were bound by the CBA. The
Defendants now ask the Court to rewrite the CBA to cover only
“commercial construction work” instead of
“all construction work.” But this rewrite would
contradict a matter specifically covered by the CBA. Thus,
the Court must conclude that there is no genuine issue of
material fact as to the amounts of unpaid fringe benefits
contributions, interest, and audit costs. Defendants are
liable for $243, 034.56, as determined by the audit.
502(g)(2) of ERISA provides “[i]n any action under this
subchapeter by a fiduciary for or on behalf of a plan to
enforce section 1145 in which a judgment in favor of the plan
is awarded, the court shall award the plan . . . reasonable
attorney's fees and costs of the action, to be paid by
the defendant.” 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2). Thus, the
award of attorney's fees in this case is mandatory.
See Building Service Local 47 Cleaning Contractors
Pension Plan v. Grandview Raceway, 46 F.3d 1392, 1400
(6th Cir. 1995).
“lodestar” approach is the proper method for
determining the amount of reasonable attorney's fees.
Id. at 1401. In applying the lodestar approach,
“[t]he most useful starting point ... is the number of
hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a
reasonable hourly rate.” Hensley v. Eckerhart,
461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). There is a “strong
presumption” that this lodestar figure represents a
reasonable fee. Pennsylvania v. Delaware Valley
Citizens' Council for Clean Air, 478 U.S. 546, 565
(1986). However, “[t]he product of reasonable hours
times a reasonable rate does not end the inquiry. There
remain other considerations that may lead the district court
to adjust the fee upward or downward....”
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434.
party seeking fees bears the burden of establishing
entitlement to the amount claimed for the work performed
based on billing records and rates charged:
To justify any award of attorneys' fees, the party
seeking compensation bears the burden of documenting its
work.” Gonter v. Hunt Valve Co., 510 F.3d 610,
617 (6th Cir. 2007). The fee applicant “should submit
evidence supporting the hours worked and rates claimed. Where
the documentation of hours is inadequate, the ... court may
reduce the award accordingly.” Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 103 S.Ct. 1933, 76 L.Ed.2d
Perry v. AutoZone Stores, Inc., 624 Fed.Appx. 370,
372 (6th Cir. 2015).
Plaintiffs request $85, 142.25 in attorney fees and $5,
086.73 in costs. Defendants do not ...