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Enos v. Union Stone, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

October 15, 2013

Paul ENOS, Chairman of the Rhode Island Bricklayers Benefit Funds, Plaintiff, Appellee,
v.
UNION STONE, INC., Defendant, Appellant.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Andrew J. Tine with whom Law Offices of Andrew J. Tine was on brief for appellant.

Karl J. Gross with whom O'Reilly, Grosso & Gross, P.C. was on brief for appellee.

Before LYNCH, Chief Judge, TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge, and STEARNS, [*] District Judge.

STEARNS, District Judge.

This is an appeal of a final judgment awarding the Rhode Island Bricklayers Benefit Funds (" the Funds" or " the Rhode Island Funds" ) fringe benefit contributions that Union Stone, Inc. failed to make for work performed in Massachusetts and Connecticut bye members of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local # 1 Rhode Island (" the Union" or " the Rhode Island Bricklayers Union" ). Finding no merit in Union Stone's arguments on appeal, we affirm.

I. Background

Union Stone is a party to a collective bargaining agreement (" CBA" ) with the Rhode Island Bricklayers Union. Under the terms of the CBA, Union Stone is required to make benefit contributions to the Union members' pension funds. When Union Stone employs member bricklayers on out-of-state jobs, typically in Massachusetts and Connecticut, it is obligated to make the benefit payments to affiliate pension funds in those states. The affiliate funds then transfer the payments to the Rhode Island Funds for the members' account. Union Stone is also obligated by the CBA to maintain books and records substantiating the payments.

Paul Enos, the Chairman of the Trustees of the Rhode Island Funds, sued Union Stone in the Rhode Island District Court pursuant to the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (" ERISA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 1132, and the Labor Management Relations Act, id. § 185, alleging that Union Stone had failed to pay the full amount due for work performed by Union members in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The district court entered partial summary judgment for the Funds, awarding the contributions that were agreed to be owing for members' labor in Massachusetts. Because there were disputes about the amount owed for work performed in Connecticut, the court set a bench trial for June 7, 2012.

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On the morning of trial, Union Stone's counsel presented the Funds' attorney with copies of checks made out to the Connecticut funds in an amount that ostensibly covered the outstanding contributions owed to the Union's Rhode Island members. Union Stone did not, however, provide copies of the remittance reports, which would have allowed the Funds to compare the amounts tendered with the contributions being sought. Perhaps naively, the attorney for the Funds informed the court that the checks " resolve[d] that ... portion of the judgment [the Funds] were seeking as to the Connecticut funds," thus obviating the need for a trial. Only afterwards did the Funds realize that the bulk of the payments to the Connecticut funds were in satisfaction of contributions owed by Union Stone to Connecticut bricklayers, and not to the Union's Rhode Island members.

Believing that he had been deliberately misled, Enos repaired to the district court, alleging that Union Stone's " misrepresent[ation]" of the nature of its payment to the Connecticut funds was " nothing more than a ruse against the Court." Union Stone responded with a Rule 11 motion denying the accusation and seeking sanctions. Chief Judge Lisi determined that the June 7 morning-of-trial exchange between counsel had resulted in a " miscommunication" and denied the Rule 11 motion as " ill-conceived."

The court then scheduled a second bench trial to resolve the dispute over the amounts owed by Union Stone for labor performed by Rhode Island bricklayers in Connecticut. Following the trial, the court entered judgment in favor of the Funds, awarding the unpaid ...


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