United States District Court, D. Nevada
TRUSTEES OF THE OPERATING ENGINEERS PENSION TRUST, et al., Plaintiffs,
WESTERN EXPLOSIVES SYSTEMS COMPANY, Defendant.
M. Navarro, Chief Judge.
before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No.
17), filed by Plaintiffs Trustees of the Operating Engineers
Pension Trust, Trustees of the Operating Engineers Health and
Welfare Fund, Trustees of the Operating Engineers Journeyman
and Apprentice Training Trust, and Trustees of the Operating
Engineers Vacation-Holiday Savings Trust (collectively
“Plaintiffs”). Defendant Western Explosives
Systems Company (“Defendant”) filed a Response,
(ECF No. 21), and Plaintiffs filed a Reply, (ECF No. 23).
Also before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 18). Plaintiffs filed a Response, (ECF No.
20), and Defendant did not file a Reply. For the reasons
stated herein, Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED and
Defendant's Motion is DENIED.
action concerns claims for unpaid benefit contributions under
ERISA and the Labor Management Relations Act
(“LMRA”). (Am. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 13).
Plaintiffs are trustees for collectively bargained
multiemployer fringe benefit funds, commonly referred to as
“Taft-Hartley Trusts.” (Id. ¶ 3).
The trusts were established by the International Union of
Operating Engineers, Local Union No. 12 (“Local
12”) and various employer associations in Southern
Nevada and California. (Id.).
21, 2002, Plaintiffs claim that Defendant granted a
“proxy” to the Nevada Contractors Association
(“NCA”) for purposes of collective bargaining
with Local 12. (Ramos Decl. ¶ 8, Ex. 1 to Pls.' MSJ,
ECF No. 17-1); (Notice of Proxy, Ex. 1-B to Pls.' MSJ,
ECF No. 17-2). As a result of this proxy, Plaintiffs contends
that Defendant bound itself to the Master Labor Agreement
(“MLA”) for Southern Nevada, which was negotiated
between Local 12 and the NCA. (Pls.' MSJ 2:6-12, ECF No.
17). Under the MLA, an employer is required to pay
contributions for all “covered work” by its
employees. (Id. 3:21-4:2).
August 19, 2002, Defendant sent Plaintiffs an inactive status
request form, stating “[w]e do not presently employ
Operating Engineers . . . and ask to be relieved of the
requirement to file monthly Report Forms with your
Trusts.” (Inactive Form, Ex. 1-H to Pls.' MSJ, ECF
No. 17-9). In this request form, Defendant stipulated to pay
contributions in accordance with the collective bargaining
agreement (“CBA”) should it begin employing
persons performing covered work. (Id.). In addition,
Defendant sent Plaintiffs two “no-man” reports,
which are documents submitted by a signatory employer
claiming it has no employees performing covered work.
(Id.); (Ramos Decl. ¶ 15, Ex. 1 to Pls.'
May 14, 2003, Defendant ceased appearing in the NCA's
Operating Engineers Proxy List. (Proxy List, Ex. 1-C to
Pls.' MSJ, ECF No. 17-4); (Ramos Decl. ¶ 12, Ex. 1
to Pls.' MSJ). Plaintiffs aver that Defendant ceased
appearing because it terminated its proxy with NCA.
(Pls.' MSJ 3:3-4). Regardless, Plaintiffs claim
“termination of its proxy with NCA did not terminate
its [CBA] with Local 12”; rather, termination of the
proxy caused Defendant to be bound to the “short
form” CBA with Local 12, which incorporated the MLA.
(Id. 3:3-7); (Short Form Agreement, Ex. 1-E to
Pls.' MSJ, ECF No. 17-6). Defendant contests ever
becoming a party to the MLA or the short-form agreement.
(Def.'s MSJ 4:21-5:2, ECF No. 18). Nonetheless, Defendant
sent Local 12 a notice of termination of the short-form
agreement with an effective termination date of July 1, 2016,
which Local 12 thereafter accepted. (Termination Letter, Ex.
5 to Def.'s MSJ, ECF No. 18-4); (Termination Acceptance,
Ex. 6 to Def.'s MSJ, ECF No. 18-5).
January 30, 2017, Plaintiffs conducted an audit of
Defendant's payroll records to determine compliance with
the CBA. (Babel Decl. ¶¶ 4-6, Ex. 3 to Pls.'
MSJ, ECF No. 17-11). Although Defendant denied being bound by
the MLA, Defendant agreed to Plaintiffs' audit of its
payroll to “avoid a dispute and hopefully resolve any
disagreement.” (Def.'s MSJ 4:16-17). After
conducting the audit, Plaintiffs purportedly found unpaid
contributions for the covered work of four employees between
May 2015 and January 2016. (Babel Decl. ¶¶ 7-9, Ex.
3 to Pls.' MSJ); (Audit, Ex. 3-A to Pls.' MSJ). Based
on these findings, Plaintiffs request from Defendant $55,
881.06 in unpaid contributions, $5, 588.10 in liquidated
damages, and prejudgment interest at a rate of three percent.
(Pls.' MSJ 12:3-7).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary
adjudication when the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that “there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
Material facts are those that may affect the outcome of the
case. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine
if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to
return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Id.
“Summary judgment is inappropriate if reasonable
jurors, drawing all inferences in favor of the nonmoving
party, could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's
favor.” Diaz v. Eagle Produce Ltd. P'ship,
521 F.3d 1201, 1207 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing United States
v. Shumway, 199 F.3d 1093, 1103-04 (9th Cir. 1999)). A
principal purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate
and dispose of factually unsupported claims.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24
determining summary judgment, a court applies a
burden-shifting analysis. “When the party moving for
summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it
must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a
directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at
trial. In such a case, the moving party has the initial
burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact
on each issue material to its case.” C.A.R. Transp.
Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480
(9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). In contrast, when the
nonmoving party bears the burden of proving the claim or
defense, the moving party can meet its burden in two ways:
(1) by presenting evidence to negate an essential element of
the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that
the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to
establish an element essential to that party's case on
which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.
See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323- 24. If the
moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary
judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the
nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress
& Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159-60 (1970).
moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden then
shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine
issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586
(1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the
opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact
conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that “the
claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge
to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth
at trial.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec.
Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir.
1987). In other words, the nonmoving party cannot avoid
summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations
that are unsupported by factual data. See Taylor v.
List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the
opposition must go beyond the assertions and allegations of
the pleadings and set forth specific facts by producing
competent evidence that shows a genuine issue for trial.
See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324.
summary judgment, a court's function is not to weigh the
evidence and determine the truth but to determine whether
there is a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson,
477 U.S. at 249. The evidence of the nonmovant is “to
be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn
in his favor.” Id. at 255. But if the evidence
of the nonmoving party is merely colorable or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.
See Id. at 249-50.