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Northwest Administrators, Inc. v. Clear Channel Outdoor Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

February 18, 2014



ROBERT S. LASNIK, District Judge.


This matter comes before the Court on "Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support, " Dkt. # 20. Plaintiff, Northwest Administrators, Inc., seeks to compel Defendant, Clear Channel Outdoor Inc., to submit to an audit by furnishing its records for all management employees. Plaintiff also seeks to recover attorney's fees and costs related to this action. Having considered the memoranda, declarations, and exhibits submitted by the parties, the Court finds as follows:


This case concerns a dispute regarding a pension trust fund governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., as amended (1988). Dkt. # 16. The relevant, material facts are not in dispute.

Defendant employs members of a bargaining unit represented by Local 853 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("Local 853") and is a party to a collective bargaining agreement with Local 853 ("CBA"). Dkt. # 24 at 9. Defendant is bound by the CBA, the 2007 Employer Union Pension Certification, and the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust Agreement ("Trust Agreement"). Dkt. # 21-1; Dkt. # 21-2; Dkt. # 21-3; Dkt. # 24 at 9-118. Pursuant to those agreements, Defendant has been required to report and make contributions to the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust ("Trust") "for the purpose of providing retirement, death, and termination benefits" for eligible employees and their beneficiaries since at least 2007. Dkt. # 21-1 at 13; Dkt. # 24 at 35-36, 105-106, 142-43, 173.[1]

The Trust is an employee benefit plan organized pursuant to section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 186(c), and sections 3, 4, and 502 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1002, 1003, and 1132. Plaintiff is the authorized administrative agent and assignee of the Trust. Dkt. # 21 ¶ 2. The Trust Agreement allows Plaintiff to audit Defendant's payroll records when Plaintiff deems it "necessary or desirable... in the proper administration of the Trust." Dkt. # 21-1 at 21; Dkt. # 21-2 at 21. Under the terms of the Trust Agreement,

[e]ach Employer shall promptly furnish to the Trustees or their authorized representatives on demand any and all records of his past or present Employees concerning the classification of such Employees, their names, Social Security numbers, amount of wages paid and hours worked or paid for, and any other payroll records and information that the Trustees may require in connection with the administration of the Trust Fund, and for no other purpose.


In November 2012, Plaintiff requested an audit of Defendant's payroll records for all employees from March 1, 2009 through December 31, 2012. Dkt. # 24 at 195, 200. Over the next few months, Defendant provided all of the payroll records request related to employees who were members of Local 853 during that time period. See Dkt. # 24 at 197-202; Dkt. # 21 ¶ 17. However, Defendant refused to produce payroll records for management employees that it contends are not members of Local 853 and on whose behalf it has never made contributions to the Trust. Dkt. # 21 ¶ 17; Dkt. # 24 at 197, 214. Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in March 2013 to compel an audit of Defendant's records for all employees in management positions for the period of March 1, 2009 through December 31, 2012, regarding their classification, wage rates, Social Security numbers, wages and hours worked, and tasks performed. Dkt. # 1 at 4. Plaintiff also seeks to recover its attorney's fees pursuant to the Trust Agreement. Dkt. # 16 at 5.


A. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate when, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the records 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). Once the moving party has satisfied its burden, it is entitled to summary judgment if the non-moving party fails to designate, by affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file, "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).

All reasonable inferences supported by the evidence are to be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party. See Villiarimo v. Aloha Island Air, Inc. , 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir. 2002). "[I]f a rational trier of fact might resolve the issues in favor of the nonmoving party, summary judgment must be denied." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n , 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is not sufficient." Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D Co. , 68 F.3d 1216, 1221 (9th Cir. 1995). ...

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