Attorney General: Honorable Nicholas A. Cioffi, Department of Public Safety, 1992-029 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

October 23, 1992

Honorable Nicholas A. Cioffi
Commissioner
Department of Public Safety
100 Washington Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06106

Dear Commissioner Cioffi:

By letter dated April 8, 1992, you requested our advice on the obligations of the department of public safety under Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-196. You are specifically concerned with the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-196 which deals with the issuance of renewal certificates for elevators. You advise us that it is the practice of your department to issue a renewal certificate upon receipt of the appropriate fee and to subsequently inspect the elevator as required by Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-195. You ask us whether the practice, as you have described it, is consistent with the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-196. We conclude that it is not consistent with the statute.

Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-196 states in relevant parts as follows:

As soon as the department approves any new, relocated or altered elevator or escalator as being fit for operation, it shall issue to the owner a certificate of operation for a capacity and speed specified in the inspector's report. The fee for the certificate first issued shall be one hundred dollars. Such certificate shall be posted conspicuously in the car or cage or on a platform of the elevator or escalator and shall be valid for twelve months. Thereafter, the certificate shall be renewed each year if the department approves the elevator or escalator upon receipt of the renewal fee of forty dollars, except that a certificate for an elevator or escalator subject to a full-maintenance contract shall be renewed every two year on or after October 1, 1986... No elevator or escalator may be lawfully operated without such certificate.

Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-195 provides for the inspection of elevators and escalators by the department. It provides as follows:

Each elevator or escalator shall be thoroughly inspected by a department elevator inspector at least once each twelve months, except that each elevator or escalator subject to a full-maintenance contract with a licensed maintenance contractor shall be inspected at least once every two years. More frequent inspections of any elevator or escalator shall be made if the condition thereof indicates that additional inspections are necessary or desirable.

Statutes must be interpreted as written, particularly when the words used by the legislature are clear. Zachs v. Groppo, 207 Conn. 683, 690, 542 A.2d 1145 (1988). Common sense must be used in construing statutes so that their obvious meaning may be ascertained and rational results obtained. Trumbull v. State, 206 Conn. 65, 80, 537 A.2d 431 (1988); Eagle Hill Corporation v. Commission on Hospital & Health Care, 2 Conn. App. 68, 75, 477 A.2d. 660 (1983). Bizarre results must be avoided. State v. Hanson , 12 Conn. App. 32, 44, 529 A.2d 720 (1987).

Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-196 authorizes you to issue a renewal certificate "if the department approves the elevator or escalator upon receipt of the renewal fee." The statutory language plainly requires both the Department's approval of the elevator or escalator, as well as the receipt of the fee. Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-195, moreover, requires that each elevator, not subject to a full-maintenance contract, be "thoroughly inspected by a department elevator inspector at least once each twelve months." Common sense dictates that the annual inspection required by Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-195 must be done prior to approval of the elevator and issuance of the renewal certificate pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-196. If a renewal certificate is issued prior to inspection of the elevator, the situation may arise in which a renewal certificate is issued for an unsafe elevator. This would be contrary to rational result contemplated by Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-195 and 29-196.

Accordingly, it is our opinion that you must receive the fee inspect and approve the elevator prior to issuance of the renewal certificate.

Very truly yours,

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL

Henri Alexandre
Assistant Attorney General

RB/HA/ec


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