The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Davis Chief Judge United States District Court
MEMORANDUM OF LAW & ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs. [Docket No. 39]
The factual background of this dispute is set forth in detail in this Court's Order filed February 25, 2013, entering default judgment and damages [Docket No. 36]. Generally, Plaintiffs Terry Nali and William Grimm are the Trustees and fiduciaries of the Twin City Floor Covering Industry Pension Fund and the Twin City Floor Covering Industry Fringe Benefit Trust Fund ("Funds"). Defendants MaxPro Flooring, LLC ("MaxPro") and Clint Johnson were bound by the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") with the Carpet, Linoleum, Resilient Tile Layers Local #596 of the Lakes and Plains Regional Council of Carpenters and Joiners. Under the CBA, Defendants were required to make contributions on behalf of covered employees.
On August 6, 2009, Nali and Grimm sued MaxPro and Johnson in the District of Minnesota in Nali v. MaxPro Flooring, LLC, Civil File No. 09-2070 (ADM/JJK) ("ADM Case"). The Complaint was based on MaxPro and Johnson's failure to submit fringe benefit reports and contributions based on those reports for the months of May and June 2009. Defendants failed to respond or appear in the ADM Case. Defendants eventually produced the requested fringe reports for June, July, and August 2009; they self-reported an amount due of $16,088.50; and Plaintiffs sought entry of a default judgment for the amounts reported by Defendants. (ADM Case [Docket No. 7-10].) On December 1, 2009, the Court entered judgment for $19,993.46 in the ADM Case. (ADM Case [Docket Nos. 13, 16].)
On December 18, 2009, a few weeks after obtaining judgment in the ADM Case, Plaintiffs filed the current Complaint against MaxPro and Johnson in this Court. The Complaint seeks an order requiring Defendants to submit to an audit and to pay "all unpaid fringe benefit contributions discovered to be due pursuant to the audit of the period of May 1, 2009 to the present plus all additional amounts to which the Plaintiffs are entitled." (Compl. at 6-7.) Defendants failed to answer or otherwise respond, and on December 17, 2010, the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment. [Docket Nos. 14-15] The Court's Order required Defendants to provide the payroll and employment records for May 2009 through the present (December 17, 2010), to the Funds within ten days from the date that the Order was served on Defendants. The Court held that, once the audit information was provided, Defendants would be liable for the amount of delinquent contributions found owing pursuing to the audit, liquidated damages, audit fees, and reasonable costs and attorney's fees incurred.
Plaintiffs filed a Satisfaction of Judgment in the ADM Case on March 26, 2012. In February 2012, Plaintiffs commenced a garnishment action in the ADM Case against Johnson's personal bank account.
Using documents provided by Defendants, Plaintiffs performed an audit of the fringe benefits owed for the period May 2009 through December 10, 2010. On February 25, 2013, this Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of Judgment and awarded $27,311.98 for fringe benefit contributions for the Audit Period of May 14, 2009 through December 2010, and liquidated damages. The Court denied, without prejudice, Plaintiffs' request for attorney's fees and costs because Plaintiffs filed no billing records to support their claim for attorney's fees, so the Court was unable to determine the proper amount to award, and Defendants were unable to lodge any objections to the amount billed. Defendants have now filed their billing records to support their request for attorneys' fees.
Plaintiffs now request an attorney's fees award of $7,092.00. Defendants request that the Court reduce the award of attorney's fees to $5,762.75.
Under ERISA, an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs is mandatory when a fiduciary has successfully sued to enforce an employer's obligation to make contributions to a multiemployer plan. See 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2); Laborers Health and Welfare Trust Fund For Northern California v. Advanced Lightweight Concrete Co., Inc., 484 U.S. 539, 547 (1988). Thus, Plaintiffs are entitled to their reasonably incurred attorney's fees spent on this current lawsuit.
Defendants do not object to Plaintiffs' counsels' billing rate, and, based on its own independent review and knowledge of the prevailing billing rates in this market for this type of work, the Court agrees that the rates requested are reasonable. However, Defendants have filed objections to the amount of fees on two grounds: some of the fees were incurred with regard to the ADM Case, not this case, and Plaintiffs previously represented to Defendants that they ...