United States District Court, D. Hawaii
HAWAII CARPENTERS TRUST FUNDS, Health & Welfare Fund by its trustees Russell Young, Glen Kaneshige, Eric Hashizume, George Ehara, Ronald Taketa, Kyle Chock, Shayne Chung, Conrad C. Verdugo, Jr., Ralph Hoohuli, Travis Murakami and Alika Fujimoto; Apprenticeship & Training Fund by its trustees Claude Matsumoto, Thomas Toma, Conrad Murashige, Dale Sakamoto -Yoneda, Roy Morioka, Vince Nihipali, Sheri Mau, Kyle Chock, Ronald Taketa, Mitchell Tynanes, Sean Newcamp, Ralph Hoohuli, Travis Murakami and Barbara Kono; Vacation & Holiday Fund by its trustees James Watanabe, Paul Silen, Paul Sasaki, Jay Kadowaki, Roy Morioka, Kyle Chock, Sean Newcamp, Mitchell Tynanes, Ralph Hoohuli, Travis Murakami, Tom Broderick and Blake T. Inouye; Market Recovery Program Fund by its trustees Thalia Choy, Alan Shintani, Justin Izumi, Ken Kawamoto, Bill Wilson, Lance Wilhelm, Sean Newcamp, Kyle Chock, Mitchell Tynanes, Ralph Hoohuli, Travis Murakami and Dale Sakamoto-Yoneda; Financial Security Fund by its trustees Kenneth Spence, Conrad Murashige, Kenneth Sakurai, Alan Shintani, Kyle Chock, Ronald Taketa, Shayne Chung, Sean Newcamp, Ralph Hoohuli, Clyde Sugawa, Joyce Furukawa, Travis Murakami and Michael Inouye; Drywall Training Fund by its trustees Vince Nihipali, Sr., Lito Alcantra, Bert Beaman, Mike Goodnight, Kevin Respecki, Sean Newcamp, Garrett Takara, Edmund Aczon, David Samson and Ivan Lay; 401-K Fund by its trustees Kenneth Spence, Conrad Murashige, Kenneth Sakurai, Alan Shintani, Kyle Chock Ronald Taketa, Shayne Chung, Sean Newcamp, Ralph Hoohuli, Clyde Sugawa, Joyce Furukawa, Travis Murakami and Michael Inouye Plaintiffs,
H.E. JOHNSON COMPANY, INC.; JOHN DOES 1-100;JANE DOES 1-100; DOE CORPORATIONS 1-100; DOE PARTNERSHIPS 1-100; DOE ENTITIES 1-100; DOE GOVERNMENTAL UNITS 1-100, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND PLAINTIFFS' REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS
C. Kay Sr. United States District Judge.
reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Defendant H.E.
Johnson Company, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment and
DENIES Plaintiff Hawaii Carpenters Trust Funds' request
January 31, 2018, Plaintiffs Hawaii Carpenters Trust Funds
and its trustees (“Plaintiffs” or the
“Trust Funds”) filed a Complaint against H.E.
Johnson Company, Inc. (“HEJ”) and numerous Doe
Defendants. The Complaint alleges that HEJ failed to make
certain employee benefit contributions to its covered
employees and their eligible dependents, in violation of: (1)
the Labor-Management Relations Act of
1947(“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 141 et seq.; (2)
the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
(“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq.; and (3)
the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980
(“MPPAA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1461.
Compl. ¶ 2.
filed a pre-discovery Motion for Summary Judgment on February
20, 2018 (“MSJ”). ECF No. 11. On April 6, 2018,
the Trust Funds filed a Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant
H.E. Johnson Company's Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Opp.”) ECF No. 19. HEJ filed its Reply on April
16, 2018 (“Reply Br.”). ECF No. 21. HEJ's
Reply noted that the Trust Funds failed to file a separate
document containing a single concise statement that admits or
disputes the facts set forth in HEJ's concise statement
of facts, as well as sets forth all material facts as to
which the Trust Funds contend there exists a genuine issue
necessary to be litigated. Id. at 14 (citing Local
April 17, 2018, the Trust Funds filed a Responsive Concise
Statement of Facts and the Supplemental Declaration of
Jeffrey P. Miller. ECF Nos. 22, 23. By minute order entered
April 19, 2018, the Court construed the Trust Funds'
filings together as a motion for an extension of time to file
a concise statement of facts compliant with Local Rule
56.1(b) and granted the motion. ECF No. 24. However, the
Court permitted HEJ to submit a response to the Trust
Funds' late-filed Responsive Concise Statement of Facts,
see id., which HEJ filed on April 24, 2018, ECF No. 25.
Court held a hearing on HEJ's MSJ at on April 30, 2018.
At the hearing, the Court gave the parties until May, 4,
2018, to submit supplemental briefing on the availability of
HEJ's termination defense, which the parties had not
addressed. See ECF No. 26. The parties submitted their
supplemental briefs on May 4, 2018. See ECF Nos. 27
(“HEJ's Suppl. Mem.”), 28 (“TF Suppl.
Mem.”). Later that same day, HEJ filed an erratum to
its supplemental brief. ECF No. 29.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement
about October 25, 2012, HEJ entered into a Collective
Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) with the United
Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America, Local
745, AFL-CIO (the “Union”). Compl. Exhibit
(“Ex.”) A, ECF No. 1-1; see also Compl. Ex. B
(“Certification of Receipt and Acceptance” or
“CRA”), ECF No. 1-2. The CBA was effective
September 1, 2007 to and including August 31, 2012, CBA at
but before the time of HEJ's execution, it had been
amended to remain effective to and including August 31, 2014,
CRA at 75.
other topics, the CBA obligated HEJ to make specified
employee benefit contributions to the Trust Funds, which the
Trust Funds would in turn use toward paying certain employee
benefits to HEJ's covered employees and their eligible
dependents. CBA at 26-28 and ¶ 6. To that end, the CBA
established the procedural and substantive requirements
governing HEJ's contribution payments and provided for
penalties in the event HEJ became delinquent on these
contribution payments. Id. at 28-29.
here, the CBA also contained provisions governing its
duration and termination. CBA Section 1, entitled
“Duration, ” states:
1.1 This Agreement shall be binding upon the
respective parties effective September 1, 2007, to and
including August 31, 2012, and shall be considered as renewed
from year to year thereafter unless either party hereto shall
give written notice to the other of its desire to modify,
amend, or terminate the same.
Id. at 17 (emphasis added); HEJ's Memorandum in
Support of Motion (“Def.'s Mem.”) at 2-3.
With respect to written notice of modification, amendment, or
termination, a different provision within CBA Section 1
1.2 Any such notice must be given by the
parties desiring to modify, amend, or terminate the
Agreement, at least one hundred eighty (180) calendar days
prior to the expiration date, but not more than two hundred
ten (210) calendar days prior to the expiration date. In the
event such notice is given, and only in such event,
negotiations for a new agreement shall commence as soon as
possible. If such notice is not given, the Agreement will be
deemed to automatically renew for the succeeding year.
Id. at 17 (emphasis added); Def.'s Mem. at 3.
HEJ's Purported March 3, 2016 Termination of the
March 3, 2016, HEJ contends that it hand delivered a notice
of termination to the Union. HEJ's Concise Statement of
Facts (“Def.'s CSF”) ¶ 1, ECF No. 12;
Def.'s CSF, Decl. of Brian Hall (“Hall
Decl.”) ¶¶ 1-2, ECF No. 12-1. The notice of
termination stated that HEJ desired to terminate the CBA and
the CRA pursuant to CBA Section 1.1. Def.'s CSF Ex. 1,
ECF No. 12-3. By purportedly hand delivering the notice of
termination to the Union on March 3, 2016, HEJ states that it
provided 181 days' notice that it desired to terminate
the Agreement pursuant to CBA Section 1.1-i.e., it desired to
terminate the CBA before renewal, effective August 31, 2016.
Def.'s Mem. at 3; Reply Br. at 4-5.
Trust Funds dispute that the Union ever received HEJ's
March 3, 2016 notice of termination. Opp. at 8-11; Trust
Funds' Responsive Concise Statement of Facts
(“Pls.' CSF”) ¶ 1, ECF No. 22;
Declaration of Joy Nishino (“Nishino Decl.”)
¶ 3. They support their contention with several
declarations from Union- or Trust Fund-affiliated
individuals. First, the Trust Funds submit the Declaration of
Joy Nishino, one of the custodians of record for the Hawaii
Regional Council of Carpenters (“HRCC”) of the
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Mrs.
Nishino claims that she could not find HEJ's notice of
termination in HRCC's records after conducting a thorough
search. Nishino Decl. ¶¶ 2-3. Mrs. Nishino also
states that HRCC's offices followed a standard protocol
upon receipt of all hand-delivered notices of
termination-including date stamping the notice and forwarding
it for legal review-but has no record of this protocol being
followed in relation to HEJ's notice of termination.
Id. ¶¶ 5-6. The notice of termination HEJ
submits is not date-stamped and contains no indication that
any HRCC official received it. See Def.'s CSF, Hall Decl.
the Trust Funds submit the Declaration of Ronald I. Taketa
(“Taketa Decl.”), who was HRCC's Executive
Secretary and Treasurer on March 3, 2016. Taketa Decl. ¶
1, ECF No. 19-11. Mr. Taketa, whose responsibilities included
supervising the relationships between HRCC and its signatory
employers like HEJ, claims that he had no knowledge of
HEJ's March 3, 2016 notice of termination or intention to
terminate the CBA until after the Trust Funds initiated this
action. Id. ¶¶ 2-3. Further, Mr. Taketa
declares that had he received HEJ's notice of
termination, he would have conducted an inquiry with legal
counsel and sent any acceptance of the termination in
writing. Id. ¶ 4.
the Trust Funds submit the Declaration of Sarah M. Kobayashi
(“Kobayashi Decl.”), who was at all relevant
times a Contribution Accounting Supervisor with Hawaii
Benefit Administrators, Incorporated (“HBAI”).
Kobayashi Decl. ¶ 1, ECF No 19-4. HBAI is a third-party
benefit administrator for the Trust Funds responsible for the
collection and accounting of employer contributions of fringe
benefits under the CBA. Id. ¶ 2. Ms. Kobayashi
was one of the custodians of records for HBAI tasked with
documenting HEJ's contracts and correspondence with HBAI.
Id. Ms. Kobayashi outlines the standard procedure
she and her staff would have followed if HRCC would have
received and forwarded HEJ's March 3, 2016 notice of
termination, but declares that: (1) she could not locate
HEJ's notice of termination in HBAI's records despite
an exhaustive search; and (2) HBAI has no record that its
normal procedure was completed in relation to HEJ's March
3, 2016 notice of termination. Id. ¶¶ 4-5.
This Action is Commenced
contends that it made no further contribution payments under
the CBA after August 2016, and the Trust Funds did not audit
HEJ after August 2016. Def.'s CSF ¶ 2; id., Hall
Decl. ¶ 4. The Trust Funds, in contrast, assert that
they consistently requested audit materials from HEJ after
the period HEJ now claims it terminated the CBA. Kobayashi
Decl. ¶ 6. They claim that on February 6, 2017, they
mailed HEJ a partial pay stub audit for the period from June
2016 to December 2016. Id. and Ex. 1; Pls.' CSF
¶ 3. The Trust Funds contend that HEJ thereafter
provided necessary audit materials on August 3, ...