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Hawaii Electricians Annuity Fund v. Lewis Electric LLC

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

November 21, 2017

HAWAII ELECTRICIANS ANNUITY FUND, by its Trustees, Ronald Yee, Robert Hanamoto, Jody Hanamoto, Tracy Hayashi, Damien T. K. Kim, Leyton Torda; HAWAII ELECTRICIANS HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, by its Trustees, Rodney Chun, Daryl Suehiro, Jody Hanamoto, Tracy Hayashi, Damien T. K. Kim, Leyton Torda; HAWAII ELECTRICIANS PENSION FUND, by its Trustees, Ronald Yee, Randall Nishimura, Steve Watanabe, Tracy Hayashi, Damien T. K. Kim, Leyton Torda; HAWAII ELECTRICIANS TRAINING FUND, by its Trustees, Daryl Suehiro, Stephen Duarte, Phillip Chico Lucero, Tracy Hayashi, Damien T. K. Kim, Dennis Kaloi; HAWAII ELECTRICIANS SUPPLEMENTARY UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FUND, by its Trustees, Steve Watanabe, Robert Hanamoto, Jody Hanamoto, Dennis Kaloi, Damien T. K. Kim, Leyton Torda; HAWAII ELECTRICIANS VACATION AND HOLIDAY FUND, by its Trustees, Steve Watanabe, Robert Hanamoto, Jody Hanamoto, Tracy Hayashi, Damien T. K. Kim, Leyton Torda; HAWAII ELECTRICIANS PREPAID LEGAL FUND, by its Trustees, Steven Tanaka, Rodney Chun, Jody Hanamoto, Tracy Hayashi, Damien T. K. Kim, Dennis Kaloi; HAWAII ELECTRICIANS MARKET ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM FUND, by its Trustees, Daryl Suehiro, Robert Hanamoto, Jody Hanamoto, Stephen Duarte, Damien T. K. Kim, Robert Aquino, Brian Lee, Plaintiffs,
v.
LEWIS ELECTRIC LLC; LEE B. LEWIS; JOHN DOES 1-10; JANE DOES 1-10; DOE CORPORATIONS 1-10; DOE PARTNERSHIPS 1-10; DOE GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES 1-10, DOE TRUSTS 1- 10, Defendants.

          YEE & KAWASHIMA, LLLP JARED N. KAWASHIMA CHRISTIN D. WEHRSIG Attorneys for Plaintiffs HAWAII ELECTRICIANS TRUST FUNDS.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST DEFENDANTS LEWIS ELECTRIC LLC AND LEE B. LEWIS

          Kevin S.C. Chang United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs TRUSTEES of the HAWAII ELECTRICIANS ANNUITY FUND, HAWAII ELECTRICIANS HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, HAWAII ELECTRICIANS PENSION FUND, HAWAII ELECTRICIANS TRAINING FUND, HAWAII ELECTRICIANS SUPPLEMENTARY UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FUND, HAWAII ELECTRICIANS VACATION AND HOLIDAY FUND, HAWAII ELECTRICIANS PREPAID LEGAL FUND, and HAWAII ELECTRICIANS MARKET ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM FUND (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Plaintiffs”), Motion for Entry of Default Judgment Against Defendants Lewis Electric LLC and Lee B. Lewis. (Doc. 14.) Plaintiffs request that default judgment be entered pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for delinquent contributions owed to the Trust Funds, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. (Doc. 14.)

         This matter came on for hearing on September 13, 2017. (Doc. 17.) Appearing on behalf of Plaintiffs Hawaii Electricians Trust Funds was Christin D. W. Kawada. Defendants Lewis Electric LLC and Lee B. Lewis did not make an appearance or otherwise defend against Plaintiff's Motion. The court, having taken judicial notice of Defendants' default, considering no opposition by Defendants, and after careful consideration of the Motion, declarations, exhibits, and the record herein, finds and recommends that the Motion be GRANTED. As discussed more thoroughly below, this court recommends that judgment be in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of $57, 246.43.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 13, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint seeking judgment for outstanding trust fund contributions and damages against Defendants alleging that Defendant LEWIS ELECTRIC LLC (“LEWIS ELECTRIC LLC”) materially breached the collective bargaining agreements and various Trust Agreements created thereunder (collectively, the “Bargaining Agreement”). Plaintiffs claimed that Defendant LEWIS ELECTRIC LLC failed to submit monthly contribution reports and full payments due on said reports pursuant to the terms of the Bargaining Agreement, notwithstanding demand by Plaintiffs.

         Plaintiffs allege Defendant LEE B. LEWIS (“LEE B. LEWIS”) should be held liable for all judgments entered against Defendant LEWIS ELECTRIC LLC because he was a member or officer of Defendant LEWIS ELECTRIC LLC and the alter ego and/or mere instrumentality of Defendant LEWIS ELECTRIC LLC. Additionally, Plaintiffs assert a claim for breach of fiduciary duty against Defendant LEE B. LEWIS, alleging that he is a fiduciary under ERISA because he exercised authority or control respecting management or disposition of plan assets. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant LEE B. LEWIS breached his fiduciary duties by intentionally failing to report and/or pay the required contributions. Plaintiffs ask for a monetary award against Defendants and the imposition of a constructive trust on the assets of Defendants.

         The action arises under the Labor-Management Relations Act, 1947, as amended, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, and the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980. Jurisdiction is founded on questions arising thereunder and more specifically under 29 U.S.C. §§ 1145 and 1132(a) and (f).

         On April 19, 2017, service of process of the Complaint was made on Defendant LEWIS ELECTRIC LLC's registered agent, the Corporation Company, as evidenced by the Proof of Service filed on May 4, 2017.

         On April 27, 2017, service of process of the Complaint was made on Defendant LEE B. LEWIS, as evidenced by the Proof of Service filed on May 4, 2017.

         On May 11, 2017, Plaintiffs filed Plaintiffs' Request for Entry of Default Against Defendants LEWIS ELECTRIC LLC. On May 12, 2017, default was entered against Defendant for its failure to plead or otherwise defend itself as required by law.

         On June 7, 2017, Plaintiffs filed Plaintiffs' Request for Entry of Default Against Defendants LEE B. LEWIS. On June 8, 2017, default was entered against Defendant for its failure to plead or otherwise defend itself as required by law.

         On July 25, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Entry of Default Judgment (“Motion”) seeking an award of the sum of $58, 050.29, representing contribution amounts of $50, 073.86, liquidated damages of $4, 993.10, and attorneys' fees and costs of $2, 983.33 (consisting of fees: $2, 341.50, general excise tax: $62.95, and costs: $578.88).

         Plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of Default Judgment was accompanied by the Declaration of Travis Umemoto in support of the damages sought by Plaintiffs. The Declaration of Christin D. W. Kawada also accompanied the Motion for ...


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