Sheet Metal Workers seek damages for alleged unpaid benefit fund contributions

Molly English-Bowers Mar. 21, 2016, 8:53pm


EAST ST. LOUIS – A labor union and its benefit plans are suing Elk Heating & Cooling for alleged missing monies.

Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 268 and four of its affiliated trust/benefit funds filed the suit March 15 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against Elk Heating & Cooling Inc., an administratively dissolved Illinois corporation, and Robert McPherson, doing business as Elk Heating.

The labor union's pension, welfare, vacation and apprenticeship funds are administered in Caseyville. Elk Heating & Cooling was dissolved by the Illinois Secretary of State on June 12, 2015. However, the suit alleges, defendant McPherson continued to conduct business under the Elk Heating name after it was dissolved.

The plaintiff is the collective bargaining representative of all pertinent employees of the defendants.

According to the complaint, the parties entered into a contract effective July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2015. The defendants also became bound by a collective bargaining agreement with the union from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018.

The defendants were bound by the contract to make contributions to the plaintiff funds in specified amounts. Based on reports submitted by the defendants through September 2015, they allegedly owe the plaintiff funds $146,802 in unpaid contributions, the suit states.

When employers are delinquent, the contract requires them to pay costs associated with the collection of payments, including attorney fees, interest, and audit and court costs.

The plaintiffs also claim they are entitled to recover interest, liquidated damages, costs, accounting fees and attorney fees, according to the collective bargaining agreement.

The plaintiffs seek a judgment against the defendants in the amount of $146,802 for actual damages, an amount for interest, liquidated damages, costs, accounting fees and attorney fees, and other relief the court may deem proper. They are represented by Greg A. Campbell of Hammond and Shinners PC in St. Louis.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois case number 16-cv-00274

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