were to come within the meaning of the term used.
The Court, considering all the surrounding facts and circumstances, does not feel justified in attaching to the word 'unions' the meaning which defendant seeks to attach to it. The word 'unions' was used only once at the end of a colloquy on the floor of the House.
Taking into account the circumstances under which the amendment was drawn and introduced, it's context, both as to other provisions in 35 D.C.Code 710 (1951 Edition) and as to the discussion of the amendment in the House of Representatives, the Court is unable to conclude that such use of the word 'unions' reflects the legislative intent claimed by defendant.
After the life insurance bill was passed as Public Law 436, 73rd Congress the Secretary-Treasurer of the Municipal Employees Group Insurance Association, one of the groups insured by plaintiff received a letter from J. A. Marshall, then Superintendent of Insurance for the District of Columbia. This letter, a photostat of which is contained among plaintiff's exhibits, reads as follows:
'Dear Mr. Gelbman: --
'Answering your inquiry of June 15th, please be advised this office interprets that portion of Public No. 436 -- 73rd Congress -- H.R. 9178, which refers to group insurance as follows:
'Any association of Federal employees is eligible to contract for group insurance provided 75% of its members make application for coverage.
'I am extremely sorry there was so much delay in answering this inquiry, but it was due to the fact I was disinclined to make a ruling on this law until such a time as I had been officially notified of its approval.
'I shall be very happy to address your conference and thank you for the invitation.'
Plaintiff also included among its exhibits a letter dated May 9, 1949, from defendant to the Comptroller of plaintiff. The bill referred to in this letter was a proposed amendment to the Life Insurance Law of the District and was eventually enacted as the Act of July 12, 1950, 64 Stat. 330. In this amendment Section 710(5) of Title 35 D.C.Code remained in substantially the same form as that in which it was enacted by the 73rd Congress. The pertinent part of the letter reads as follows:
'I am enclosing a copy of H.R. 4394, which should be of interest to your company in view of the fact that it preserves the right to insure associations of Government employees under a group policy. You will find that provision on pages 9 and 10 of the bill. As you know, our group section in the present law is very badly in need of overhauling and we think this bill will go as far as is necessary without disrupting the present situation. Except for the section in which you are particularly interested, it is, as you will note, the standard bill as approved by the National Association last December. Let me know what your associates think about it and whether it will have your active support.'
In view of the legislative history of the Act and the informal opinions of two insurance Superintendents for the District of Columbia, the Court is of the opinion that the proviso requiring coverage of 'not less than 75 per centum of such employees' does not mean that 75 per centum of all the employees of a department, board, commission, etc., must be included before the group may be validly insured.
No word or words appear in the Act which define or qualify or limit the meaning of the words 'association of Federal employees'. In the Court's opinion neither the legislative history of the Act or it's context justify the Court in concluding that the word 'association' as used in the Act, is to be construed to mean 'association, other than an association organized in order that it's members may obtain insurance'. It appears to the Court that it was the intention of Congress, in enacting 35 D.C.Code 710(5), supra, that an association of not less than 50 employees could be formed, and could obtain insurance under this section although the group did not comprise 75 per centum of all the employees of a department, board, commission, etc., and even if the sole purpose of the formation of the association was the obtaining of group insurance.
It further appears to the Court that the law repeatedly has been administratively construed consonantly with such intention of Congress. While the informal opinions of the Superintendents of Insurance are not conclusive the Court does not feel justified in disregarding them as administrative interpretations despite their informality, especially since the interpretation has been followed in practice for so long a period of time.
The motion of plaintiff for summary judgment is hereby granted.