United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Twin City Pipe Trades Service Association, Inc., a Minnesota non-profit corporation, Trustees of the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund, Plaintiffs,
MSES, LLC, a Georgia limited liability company registered to do business in Minnesota doing business as ATR Service, Defendant.
Laura Henderson, Esq., William A. Cumming, Esq. and Hessian & McKasy, PA, 3700 RBC Plaza, 60 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402, counsel for plaintiffs.
Ross M. Hussey, Esq. and Udoibok, Tupa & Hussey, PLLP, The Grain Exchange, Suite 310, 400 South Fourth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415, counsel for defendant.
DAVID S. DOTY, District Judge.
This matter is before the court upon the motion for summary judgment by plaintiffs Twin City Pipe Trades Service Association, Inc. and the Trustees of the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund. Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants in part the motion.
This matter arises out of the nonpayment of employee benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by defendant MSES, LLC d/b/a ATR Service (ATR). On September 17, 2013, plaintiffs filed suit alleging that ATR failed to submit fringe benefit contributions as required by the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Plaintiffs filed the instant motion on August 15, 2014, seeking judgment in the amount of unpaid contributions, a bond for future contributions, and attorney's fees. ATR concedes that it owes past unpaid contributions and does not dispute the amount of those contributions or associated liquidated damages and interest. ATR contests, however, plaintiffs' bond request as well as the amount of attorney's fees requested.
I. Injunctive Relief
Plaintiffs request permanent injunctive relief in the form of two bonds totaling $88, 200.00 under Section 515 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3) and the CBA. Plaintiffs argue that the bonds are necessary to ensure future benefit contributions.
ERISA generally permits fiduciaries to request "appropriate equitable relief" to redress ERISA violations or to enforce the terms of the CBA. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3). When assessing the propriety of injunctive relief under this provision, the court considers four factors: (1) the likelihood of the movant's ultimate success on the merits, (2) the threat of irreparable harm to the movant in the absence of relief, (3) the balance between the harm alleged and the harm that the relief may cause the non-moving party and (4) the public interest. Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C.L. Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 114 (8th Cir. 1981) (en banc). An injunction is an extraordinary remedy, and the movant bears the burden of establishing its propriety. Watkins Inc. v. Lewis, 346 F.3d 841, 844 (8th Cir. 2003).
A. Success on the Merits
Plaintiffs argue that they have established the merits of their claim in the motion. The court agrees, as does ATR, that past due contributions are owed to plaintiffs. The proposed injunction, however, requests a bond for potential future benefit contributions "in the event [ATR] commences work again." ECF No. 44, at 12. There is no present indication that ATR intends to engage in relevant future work, nor is there any indication that it would not make required future payments to plaintiffs. Indeed, plaintiffs acknowledge that ATR is not currently performing work under the CBA and has not done so since November 2013. Under these circumstances, there is no basis for the court to conclude that plaintiffs are entitled to prospective relief. Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden as to this factor.
B. Irreparable Harm
Plaintiffs also fail to establish irreparable harm. This factor cannot be met when the harm will be compensable by monetary damages. See Gen. Motors Corp. v. Harry Brown's, LLC, 563 F.3d 312, 319 (8th Cir. 2009) ("Irreparable harm occurs when a party has no adequate remedy at law, typically because its injuries cannot be fully compensated through an award of damages."). If ATR performs relevant work in the future and fails to make benefit contributions, plaintiffs may seek redress ...