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Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters v. Kelaye Concrete LLC

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 4, 2017

PACIFIC NORTHWEST REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS, a labor organization, on behalf of its member BILL JENKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
KELAYE CONCRETE LLC, an Oregon corporation, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael H. Simon United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters (“Plaintiff”) brings this breach of contract action on behalf of Bill Jenkins (“Jenkins”) against Kelaye Concrete LLC (“Defendant”). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant failed to pay Jenkins penalty wages, allegedly incurred due to Defendant's failure timely to pay Jenkins regular wages. Defendant failed to answer or otherwise respond to Plaintiff's Complaint, and on January 20, 2017, the Court entered an Order of Default against Defendant. ECF 8. Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for a default judgment against Defendant. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion is granted in part.

         STANDARDS

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a), the Clerk of the Court is required to enter an order of default if a party against whom affirmative relief is sought fails timely to answer or otherwise defend an action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a) (“When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default.”). Upon the entry of default, the Court accepts “the well-pleaded factual allegations” of the complaint “as true.” DIRECTV, Inc. v. Hoa Huynh, 503 F.3d 847, 854 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Cripps v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 980 F.2d 1261, 1267 (9th Cir. 1992)); see also Geddes v. United Fin. Grp., 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977). The court, however, does not accept as true facts that are not well-pleaded, conclusions of law, or facts relating to the amount of damages. DIRECTV, 503 F.3d at 854; Geddes, 559 F.2d at 560; see also Derek Andrew, Inc. v. Poof Apparel Corp., 528 F.3d 696, 702 (9th Cir. 2008) (“‘The general rule of law is that upon default the factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating to the amount of damages, will be taken as true.'” (quoting TeleVideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917-18 (9th Cir. 1987))).

         After default has been entered against a defendant, a court may enter a default judgment against that defendant. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b). “The district court's decision whether to enter a default judgment is a discretionary one.” Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980); see also Dreith v. Nu Image, Inc., 648 F.3d 779, 786 (9th Cir. 2011) (noting that a district's court decision whether to enter a default judgment is reviewed for abuse of discretion). In Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470 (9th Cir. 1986), the Ninth Circuit set out factors to guide a district court's consideration of whether to enter a default judgment. See DIRECTV, 503 F.3d at 852 (noting that Eitel “set[] out factors to guide district court's determination regarding the appropriateness of granting a default judgment”).

The Ninth Circuit in Eitel held:
Factors which may be considered by courts in exercising discretion as to the entry of a default judgment include: (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 material facts, (6) whether the default was due to excusable neglect, and (7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring decisions on the merits.

782 F.2d at 1471-72. The “starting point” of the court's analysis, however, “is the general rule that default judgments are ordinarily disfavored.” Id. at 1472.

         BACKGROUND

         Because the Court has entered default against Defendant, the facts as alleged by Plaintiff, except those relating to damages, are taken as true. Plaintiff, a labor organization headquartered in Washington, dispatched Jenkins to work for Defendant beginning on January 6, 2015. Complaint ¶¶ 4, 9 (ECF 1). Defendant laid off Jenkins on June 9, 2016, without having paid Jenkins his wages earned during the previous three weeks. Complaint ¶ 11. A contract signed by Plaintiff and Defendant (the “Contract, ” excerpted at ECF 10-1) obligates Defendant to pay Jenkins his wages in full on a weekly basis and immediately to pay Jenkins all amounts due in the event that Jenkins is laid off during normal office hours. Complaint ¶ 7. The Contract also obligates Defendant to pay Jenkins penalty wages if Defendant does not pay Jenkins in accordance with the Contract. Complaint ¶ 7. Jenkins did not receive full payment of his regular wages until July 26, 2016, almost two months late, and he has not received any penalty wages. Complaint ¶ 13.

         The Contract contains a four-step procedure for resolving grievances and disputes between Plaintiff and Defendant. ECF 10-1 at 9-11. As relevant to this lawsuit, steps three and four require mediation and arbitration, respectively. Contract art. 11, § 2. On June 21, 2016, Plaintiff initiated a grievance against Defendant under the Contract. Complaint ¶ 12. Plaintiff requested a mediator on August 5, 2016. Complaint ¶ 16. Defendant failed to appear at the mediation scheduled for November 4, 2016, and the mediator released Plaintiff from the mediation. Complaint ¶ 17. Plaintiff notified Defendant that Defendant's failure to appear constituted a refusal to mediate. Complaint ¶ 18. On November 8, 2016, Plaintiff acquired a list of seven arbitrators and provided that list to Defendant. Complaint ¶¶ 19-20. The Contract required Plaintiff and Defendant alternatively to strike arbitrators from the list until only one arbitrator remained, but Defendant failed to strike any arbitrators after receiving the list of arbitrators from Plaintiff. Complaint ¶ 20. Plaintiff notified Defendant on November 10, 2016, that it would pursue litigation in federal court if Defendant did not participate in the arbitration process. Complaint ¶ 21. Defendant responded that it was consulting an attorney about how to proceed. Complaint ¶ 21. Plaintiff sent Defendant a final demand to participate in arbitration on November 18, 2016, but Defendant refused to participate. Complaint ¶ 23. Plaintiff filed this suit on November 30, 2016. Complaint ¶ 23.

         The Court entered an Order of Default against Defendant on January 20, 2017. ECF 8. On April 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment against Defendant, seeking Jenkins' penalty wages, prejudgment interest, an award of costs and disbursements, and attorney's fees. Plaintiff requests that the Court retain jurisdiction in order to award any further costs and attorney's fees incurred as a result of executing any judgment entered. Defendant did not respond to Plaintiff's motion for default judgment.

         DISCUSSION

         The Court finds that the factual allegations in the Complaint establish that Defendant breached the Contract with Jenkins by failing to pay Jenkins penalty wages and repudiating the Contract's mediation and arbitration procedures. The Court also ...


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