of the Committee of Conference, H.R. Rep. No. 1027, 98th Cong., 2d Sess. 24, reprinted in 1984 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 2771, 2774. Moreover, the 1984 amendments are in harmony with the holding in DiNicola. Compare Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act Amendments of 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-426 § 4(a) & (b), 98 Stat. 1639, 1641 (1984) and Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference, H.R. Rep. 1027, 98th Cong., 2d Sess. 24, reprinted in 1984 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 2771, 2774 with DiNicola, 407 A.2d at 674. In light of these factors, this Court cannot find any reason to apply the Supreme Court's interpretation of the 1928 Act to the DCWCA.
The Court also believes that application of Johnson to the DCWCA violates basic principles of statutory construction. The City Council passed the DCWCA prior to the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson. As noted above, the Council adopted language from the 1928 Act which had previously been interpreted by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. See DiNicola, 407 A.2d 670. To now interpret this language of the DCWCA in accordance with Johnson would be contrary to the principle discussed above, namely, that the courts will give language taken from a prior statute the same meaning in a subsequently enacted statute. Lorillard, 434 U.S. at 580-81. In this case, the meaning at the time the Council drafted the liability and immunity language for the DCWCA included the judicial gloss added by the DiNicola decision. Moreover, the federal courts must follow the state courts' interpretations of their particular state statutes. E.g. Aero Mayflower Transit Co. v. Board of Ry. Comm'rs, 332 U.S. 495, 499-500, 92 L. Ed. 99, 68 S. Ct. 167 (1947). The DiNicola interpretation of the same language in the prior workers' compensation statute would be applicable to the provisions of the present DCWCA.
Finally, by providing that workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees against their employers, Section 36-304(a) of the DCWCA limits the injured workers' common law rights, and therefore, must be strictly construed. Shaw v. Railroad Co., 101 U.S. 557, 565, 25 L. Ed. 892 (1879). As the Supreme Court has stated, "no statute is to be construed as altering the common law, farther than its words import. It is not to be construed as making any innovation upon the common law which it does not fairly express." Id. Since the law in the District of Columbia at the time the City Council enacted the DCWCA expressly preserved the right of a subcontractor's employee to sue the general contractor in tort, the interpretation applied by the court in Ford would alter the common law beyond what the words of the statute express.
In light of these principles and the legislative history of the DCWCA, this Court finds that even when the United States requires its contractors, such as Safeguard, to secure workers' compensation insurance, it does not thereby secure freedom from liability for the negligent acts or omissions of its employees. Release from common law liability is a benefit accruing from the carrying of such insurance only in the case where the law imposes a duty to do so. DiNicola, 407 A.2d at 673. Again, one may not escape from common law tort liability by taking out workers' compensation insurance that the law does not require. Moreover, only an entity with an actual legal duty to provide compensation can come under the immunity umbrella of the Act.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court concludes that the United States is not an "employer" under the terms of the District of Columbia Workers' Compensation Act, D.C. Code §§ 36-301 to -345 (1981 & Supp. 1985), and is not immune from third party tortfeasor actions. Therefore, it is amenable to suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-80 (1982). Accordingly, the defendant's motion for summary judgment must be, and hereby is, denied since it is not entitled to a judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 56.
The Court is duty-bound to make its decisions based on the applicable statutes and case law precedents. However, the result here, in the eyes of this Court, should receive legislative attention by the District of Columbia City Council so as to bring the DCWCA into conformity with similar statutes in Maryland and Virginia. Since the time when the District of Columbia Workers' Compensation Act was adopted, the statutes of many states have been revised and now expressly grant immunity to general contractors who provide or pay for the compensation insurance for the employees of its subcontractors. See 2A A. Larson, Workmen's Compensation Law, § 72.31(b) (1983). Such immunity does comport with the quid pro quo that underlies these workers' compensation statutes. If these changes are to be made in the DCWCA, it is the role of the legislative body, the District of Columbia City Council, and not the role of the courts to make them.
An order in accordance with the foregoing will be issued of even date herewith.
The Court has before it the defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) & (6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. The plaintiffs have filed an opposition, and the defendant has submitted a reply. The parties agree that there is no dispute as to the material facts as the plaintiff has adopted the defendant's local rule 1--9(i) statement. For the reasons set forth in the Court's opinion of even date herewith, the Court finds that the defendant is not entitled to a judgment as a matter of law pursuant to by Fed. R. Civ. P 56, and, thus, its motion must be denied. Accordingly, it is, by the Court, this 6th day of January, 1986,
ORDERED that the defendant's motion for summary judgment be, and hereby is, denied, and the parties shall appear for a status call before the Court to establish a discovery cutoff date and a pretrial and trial date in Courtroom 11 of this Courthouse on January 21, 1986 at 10 a.m.