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Hawaii Tapers Health and Welfare Fund v. B & A Builders Inc.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

February 20, 2014

HAWAII TAPERS HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
B & A BUILDERS INC.; ROD QUITON; CHRISTINA BOYEA-QUITON; ET AL., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST DEFENDANTS B & A BUILDERS INC., ROD QUITON, AND CHRISTINA BOYEA-QUITON[1]

RICHARD L. PUGLISI, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiffs Hawaii Tapers Health and Welfare Fund, Hawaii Tapers Training Fund, Hawaii Tapers Annuity Fund, Hawaii Tapers Market Recovery Fund, and Hawaii Tapers Trade Promotion Fund filed their Motion for Default Judgment Against Defendants B & A Builders Inc., Rod Quiton, and Christina Boyea-Quiton on January 20, 2014 ("Motion"). ECF No. 11. Defendants were served with a copy of the Motion, but did not file an opposition or otherwise respond to the Motion. See ECF No. 11-12. The Court found the Motion suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. ECF No. 12. After careful consideration of the Motion, the declaration, exhibits, and the record established in this action, the Court FINDS AND RECOMMENDS that the Motion be GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint against Defendants on April 29, 2013. ECF No. 1. Defendant B & A Builders Inc. ("Defendant B & A") entered into a collective bargaining agreement agreeing to contribute and pay to Plaintiffs certain amounts for employee benefits for work performed by Defendant B & A's covered employees. Compl. ¶¶ 12-19. Contributions were to be paid on or before due dates specified in the collective bargaining agreement. Id . ¶¶ 17-18. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Rod Quiton, the vice president and director of Defendant B & A, and Defendant Christina Boyea-Quiton, the president and director of Defendant B & A ("Individual Defendants"), are fiduciaries under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended ("ERISA") and should be held personally liable for all sums owed by Defendant B & A. Id . ¶¶ 28-29, 33-34.

Plaintiffs claim that Defendant B & A failed to make required contributions from December 2012 through February 2013 in the amount of $25, 913.01, and is liable for liquidated damages in the amount of $1, 331.42. ECF No. 11-1 at 5-6. Additionally, Plaintiffs claim that they are entitled to attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $2, 117.01. Id. at 5, 7-8. Plaintiffs assert that the Individual Defendants are personally liable for these amounts. Id. at 6-7. The Clerk entered default against Defendants pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on August 8, 2013. ECF No. 9-2. The present Motion followed.

ANALYSIS

Default judgment may be entered if the defendant has defaulted by failing to appear and the plaintiff's claim is for a "sum certain or for a sum which can by computation be made certain." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1), (2). The granting or denial of a motion for default judgment is within the discretion of the court. Haw. Carpenters' Trust Funds v. Stone , 794 F.2d 508, 511-12 (9th Cir. 1986). Entry of default does not entitle the non-defaulting party to a default judgment as a matter of right. Valley Oak Credit Union v. Villegas , 132 B.R. 742, 746 (9th Cir. 1991). Default judgments are ordinarily disfavored, and cases should be decided on their merits if reasonably possible. Eitel v. McCool , 782 F.2d 1470, 1472 (9th Cir. 1986). The court should consider the following factors in deciding whether to grant a motion for default judgment:

(1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff;
(2) the merits of plaintiff's substantive claim;
(3) the sufficiency of the complaint;
(4) the sum of money at stake in the action;
(5) the possibility of a dispute concerning material facts;
(6) whether the default was due to excusable neglect; and
(7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring ...

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