United States District Court, D. Hawaii
TRUSTEES OF THE HAWAII SHEET METAL WORKERS' TRUST FUNDS, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
AKUA AIR CONDITIONING LLC, CATHERINE A. BAITLON, AND CALBERT H. BAITLON, Defendants.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT PLAINTIFFS'
MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST DEFENDANTS AKUA AIR
CONDITIONING LLC, CATHERINE A. BAITLON, AND CALBERT H.
Reber Porter United States District Judge.
the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of Default
Judgment against Defendants Akua Air Conditioning LLC,
Catherine A. Baitlon, and Calbert H. Baitlon, filed on
October 11, 2019 (Motion). See ECF No. 13. The Court
found the Motion suitable for disposition without a hearing
pursuant to Rule 7.1(c) of the Local Rules of Practice of the
United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.
See ECF No. 14. The Court FINDS AND RECOMMENDS that
Plaintiffs' Motion be GRANTED.
to the Complaint, Defendant Akua Air Conditioning LLC (Akua)
entered into an agreement to contribute and pay to Plaintiffs
certain amounts for employee benefits for work performed by
Defendant Akua's covered employees and to submit certain
paperwork to Plaintiffs so that they could audit the amounts
paid by Defendant Akua (Agreement). See ECF No. 1
¶¶ 7, 8. The Agreement required contributions to be
paid monthly. See id. ¶ 9. Plaintiffs claim
that Defendant Akua failed to submit the required paperwork
and failed to make the required contributions from October
2017 through June 2019. See id. ¶¶ 13-14,
16-17. Plaintiffs further allege that Defendant Akua may owe
additional contributions, but those amounts are unknown
because Defendant Akua has refused to submit the required
reports. See id. ¶ 18. Plaintiffs request an
order directing Defendant Akua to provide the required
documentation to Plaintiffs and an award for unpaid
contributions, interest, liquidated damages, and
attorneys' fees and costs. See id. at 11-13.
Complaint also alleges that Defendants Catherine A. Baitlon
and Calbert H. Baitlon (the Baitlon Defendants) executed a
letter agreement, promissory notice, and guaranty for payment
of all delinquencies owed to Plaintiffs by Defendant Akua on
November 19, 2018. See id. ¶ 25. Plaintiffs
allege that the Baitlon Defendants have defaulted on their
payment obligations under the terms of the letter agreement,
promissory notice, and guaranty. See id. ¶ 26.
Plaintiffs request that the Court find that the Baitlon
Defendants are jointly and severally liable to Plaintiffs
under the guaranty for the amount owed to Plaintiffs by
Defendant Akua. See id. ¶ 28.
Clerk entered default against all Defendants pursuant to Rule
55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on September
10, 2019. See ECF No. 11. This Motion followed.
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).
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).
considering the merits of default judgment, the Court has an
affirmative obligation to determine whether it has subject
matter jurisdiction over this action and personal
jurisdiction over Defendant. See In re Tuli, 172
F.3d 707, 712 (9th Cir. 1999) (“To avoid entering a
default judgment that can later be successfully attacked as
void, a court should determine whether it has the power,
i.e., the jurisdiction, to enter the judgment in the first
place.”). Here, the Court has subject matter
jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' federal claims under the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act. See 29
U.S.C. §§ 1401(b)(1). The Court has personal
jurisdiction over Defendants because Plaintiffs allege that
Defendant Akua is a Hawaii corporation, that the Baitlon
Defendants are Hawaii residents, and that all Defendants were
properly served. See ECF Nos. 7-11.
Default Judgment Factors
a determination that jurisdiction is proper, the Court must
consider whether default judgment is appropriate. 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 ...