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Trustees of I.B.E.W. Local Union No. 488 Pension Fund v. Norland Electric, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 14, 2016

TRUSTEES of the I.B.E.W. LOCAL UNION NO. 488 PENSION FUND, HEALTH INSURANCE FUND, ANNUITY FUND, EDUCATIONAL FUND, the LOCAL LABOR-MANAGEMENT COOPERATION COMMITTEE and the JOINT APPRENTICESHIP AND TRAINING COMMITTEE; TRUSTEES OF THE NATIONAL ELECTRICAL BENEFIT FUND and the NA T IONAL LABOR MANAGEMENT COOPERATION FUND; the CONNECTICUT CHAPTER OF THE NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION and the I.B.EW. LOCAL UNION NO. 488; Plaintiffs,
v.
NORLAND ELECTRIC, INC., and NORLAND ELECTRIC, LLC. Defendants.

ORDER OF CIVIL CONTEMPT

CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff trustees of various union pension, health, annuity, educational and benefit funds ("Plaintiffs") seek to execute the default judgment this Court entered on their ERISA claim against their employer, Norland Electric, Inc., and its alleged successor, Norland Electric, LLC (collectively "Defendants"), with respect to delinquent contributions due to said funds under a collective bargaining agreement.[1] See Doc. 25, 28 (Rulings granting default judgment on ERISA claim against Defendants, filed on 2/19/2015 and 6/5/2015, respectively). Specifically, Plaintiffs seek to collect the following amounts which they have been awarded by this Court:

(A) $44, 387.66 in unpaid contributions (from June to December 2010);
(B) $24, 411.99 in interest on the unpaid contributions;
(C) an additional amount of $24, 411.99 in interest on the unpaid contributions (which is greater than the maximum allowed "liquidated damages provided for under the plan"); and
(D) $2, 875.00 in reasonable attorneys' fees and $513.46 in costs of the action,

for a total award of $96, 600.10. Doc. 28, at 20. Plaintiffs are also entitled to, and have been granted, post-judgment interest in an amount to be determined pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1961, the Federal Courts Improvements Act of 1982. Id. See also Doc. 29 ("Default Judgment" (6/19/2015) in favor of Plaintiffs against Defendants Norland Electric, Inc. and Norland Electric, LLC for each and all of the amounts specified in the Court's June 5, 2015 Ruling).

On October 20, 2015, Plaintiffs attempted to investigate the Defendants' "property and means of paying the Judgment" by serving Timothy P. Norris, the "sole officer of Defendant Norland Electric, LLC, " and "sole officer of the dissolved Defendant . . . Norland Electric, Inc., " with post-judgment interrogatories" at the Defendants' listed business address and Norris's "usual place of abode, 154 Jacob Road, Southbury, CT 06488."[2] Doc. 31, ¶ 3; Doc. 31-2, at 1-2 ("Return of Service" by Susan L. Voigt, State Marshal, New Haven County). After the passage of approximately three months, Norris failed to provide any response to these post-judgment interrogatories so Plaintiffs filed a "Petition for Examination of Judgment Debtor, " asserting that Defendants "failed and refused to pay any amounts toward [the] judgment" of $96, 600.10. Doc. 31, at ¶¶ 1-2. In that Petition, Plaintiffs requested, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 52-397, that Norris, as the "sole officer and principal of the Judgment Debtors, be ordered to appear before this Court, or some other Judge of the United States District Court . . . to be examined under oath concerning [the Judgment Debtors'] property and means of paying the balance of this Judgment." Id., at 2.

The Court granted Plaintiffs' Petition, mandating that Timothy P. Norris, as sole principal officer of Defendants Norland Electric, Inc. and Norland Electric, LLC, must answer Plaintiffs' post-judgment interrogatories on or before Wednesday, February 17, 2016. If Norris failed to respond to the interrogatories, he was ordered to appear before the Court at 2:00 pm on Thursday, February 25, 2016. At that time, he was to "be examined under oath regarding Defendants' property, assets, and means of paying the Judgment of $96, 600.10 entered for Plaintiffs in this action on June 19, 2015." Doc. 32, at 7. In particular, Norris was directed to be "prepared: (1) to testify in response to questions posed by counsel and the Court and (2) to produce documents in his possession, custody, or control which are relevant to the issue of Defendants' payment of the Judgment." Id., at 7-8 . Norris was further warned that "If upon failure to respond to Plaintiffs' interrogatories by February 17, 2016, Norris fails to appear before this Court on the designated date and time, and/or to fully comply with any aspect of this Ruling, he will be subject to being held in contempt of court." Id. at 8 (emphasis in original). Lastly, to ensure proper notice to Norris of this Ruling, Plaintiffs were ordered to "effect proper personal service of their Petition [Doc. 31], [the] Ruling, and the attached 'Order for Examination and Notice' upon Norris, consistent with this Court's Civil Rules and the Federal Civil Rules regarding service of a subpoena upon a party." Id. (citing D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 5(c), Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(b)).

On February 3, 2016, Plaintiffs filed proof of service on Norris by State Marshal Willie Davis on January 29, 2016. Doc. 34. The notice verified that the "Ruling" and "Order to Respond to Interrogatories or Appear for Examination" were served on Norris by leaving them at his usual place of abode, 154 Jacob Road, Southbury, Connecticut. Norris filed no answers to Plaintiffs' interrogatories by February 17, 2016, and failed to otherwise respond to either Plaintiffs or the Court.

In light of scheduling conflicts, the Court was required to reschedule the hearing set for February 25, 2016 to March 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm. In the "Notice of Rescheduled Hearing, " Norris was once again "reminded that should he fail to appear for this hearing, he w[ould] be held in contempt of Court." Doc. 35 (filed 2/24/2016) (emphasis in original). Once again, Plaintiffs were directed to, and complied with, the Court's order to "effect proper service of this 'Notice of Rescheduled Hearing' upon Norris, in accordance with this Court's Civil Rules and the Federal Rules regarding service of a subpoena upon a party." Id. Plaintiffs filed proof of that service on March 8, 2016, indicating that on March 2, 2016, State Marshal Willie Davis served Norris with the Notice [Doc. 35] by leaving a copy at his "usual place of abode, " his Southbury address. Doc. 37.

On March 9, 2016, Plaintiffs' counsel, Adam M. Garelick, appeared before the Court for the scheduled hearing at 2:00 pm. Norris, who had still provided no responses to the Plaintiffs' interrogatories, failed to appear. The Court waited until 2:40 p.m. and then entertained an oral motion by ...


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