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AGO 1964 No. 126 - October 29, 1964
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


SLIDING GLASS DOORS ‑- SAFETY GLASS ‑- INSTALLATION ‑- REQUIREMENTS OF CHAPTER 128, LAWS OF 1963 (CHAPTER 70.89 RCW).

(1) A retail glass company does not "cause to be installed" sliding glass doors or sliding glass door assemblies within the purview of § 3, chapter 128, Laws of 1963 (RCW 70.89.030) when it simply sells such doors or door assemblies and does not actually install the material itself.

(2) Chapter 128, Laws of 1963, (chapter 70.89 RCW) applies to all sliding glass doors and door assemblies installed after January 1, 1964, including any replacement of other than safety glass in such doors and assemblies which were originally installed prior to that date.

(3) The phrase "sliding glass doors, or sliding glass door assemblies" includes the fixed or "side light" portions which are normally utilized when such assemblies are installed.

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                                                                October 29, 1964

Honorable John A. Petrich
State Senator, 26th District
806 Washington Building
Tacoma, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 126

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested an opinion of this office on several questions pertaining to the application of chapter 128, Laws of 1963 (chapter 70.89 RCW).  This is an act relating to building construction and to the installation of glass doors.  Your questions may be paraphrased as follows:

            (1) Within the purview of § 3, chapter 128, Laws of 1963, (RCW 70.89.030) does a retail glass company "cause to be . . . installed" sliding glass doors or sliding glass door assemblies when it simply sells such doors or door assemblies and does not actually install the material itself?

            (2) Does chapter 128, Laws of 1963, (chapter 70.89 RCW) require the replacing of other than safety glazing material with safety glazing material when simply replacing the broken glass in a sliding glass door which was originally installed prior to January 1, 1964?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            (3) Does the phrase "sliding glass doors, or sliding glass door assemblies" include the fixed or "side light" portions which are normally utilized when such assemblies are installed?

            We answer your first question in the negative; and your second and third questions in the affirmative, for the reasons set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 128, Laws of 1963, is entitled "An Act relating to building construction and to glass doors; and prescribing a penalty."  Section 1 contains a detailed definition, for purposes of the act, of the phrase "safety glazing material."  Section 2 contains the following requirement:

            "The glass in sliding glass doors and sliding glass door assemblies installed after January 1, 1964 in new or remodeled houses, buildings, or other structures shall be of a safety glazing material as defined in section 1 of this act, and shall bear a label, decal, or etching in a lower corner which shall be visible after installation and shall identify the glass as being of a type and meeting the tests set forth in section 1 of this act."

            Section 3 provides further that:

            "On and after January 1, 1964, it shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to install in houses, buildings or other structures, or cause to be so installed, sliding glass doors, or sliding glass door assemblies unless the glazing material in such doors or assemblies is of a type and meets the test set forth in section 1 of this act."

            And, finally, so far as is here material, § 4 states that:

            "The violation of any provision of this act shall constitute a misdemeanor."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            In response to your first question, relating to the retail glass company which simply sells but does not itself install glass doors or glass door assemblies, the issue as you have properly stated it is whether the mere act of selling comes within the purview of the phrase "cause to be so installed" as used in § 3, supra.

            To our minds the single most important consideration to be noted in answering your question is that the statute here involved is a penal statute.  See, § 4,supra.  It is, of course, well established that criminal statutes generally are construed strictly against the state and in favor of the accused.  Seattle v. Green, 51 Wn. (2d) 871, 322 P. (2d) 842 (1958), and cases cited therein.

            Thus, if any reasonable doubt can be said to exist as to whether the retailer who simply sells a sliding glass door or sliding glass door assembly therebycauses such door or door assembly to be installed within the purview of § 3,supra, such doubt must be resolved in favor of the retailer.

            In our opinion a reasonable doubt most certainly does exist on this point.  Furthermore, it certainly cannot be said that to eliminate the mere seller from the coverage of this penal statute is to read out of the statute its alternative "Cause to be so installed" phraseology.  For example, the home owner who purchases a sliding glass door or sliding glass door assembly to be installed in his home by a builder or contractor employed by the home owner does not actually install the door or assembly himself; however, he most certainly causes it to be installed.

            But the mere retailer, who simply sells the sliding glass door or sliding glass door assembly, no more causes the equipment to be installed than does the manufacturer or any intermediate middleman that may have handled the product.

            Accordingly, we answer your first question, above paraphrased, in the negative.

            Your second question, repeated for ease of reference (as paraphrased) is as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            Does chapter 128, Laws of 1963, require the replacing of other than safety glazing material with safety glazing material when simply replacing the broken glass in a sliding glass door which was originally installed prior to January 1, 1964?

            Though § 2, chapter 128, Laws of 1963, supra, apparently refers only to sliding glass doors and sliding glass door assemblies installed after January 1, 1964, "in new or remodeled houses," § 3,supra, contains no such limiting qualification.  Repeated for ease of reference, this section provides:

            "On and after January 1, 1964, it shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to install in houses, buildings or other structures, or cause to be so installed, sliding glass doors, or sliding glass door assemblies unless the glazing material in such doors or assemblies is of a type and meets the test set forth in section 1 of this act."

            Reading these two sections together, we conclude that any sliding glass door or sliding glass door assembly installed on or after January 1, 1964, whether in a new or remodeled house, or building, or simply as a replacement for broken glass in a door previously assembled, must contain the safety glazing material described and defined by § 1, chapter 128, Laws of 1963, supra.  However (reconciling the apparently inconsistent provisions of the two sections) only those sliding glass doors and sliding glass door assemblies installed after January 1, 1964, in new or remodeled houses or buildings must "bear a label, decal, or etching in a lower corner which shall be visible after installation and shall identify the glass as being of a type and meeting the tests set forth in section 1 of this act."

            In short, therefore, we answer your second question, above paraphrased, in the affirmative.

            Lastly we come to your third question.  You have asked whether the phrase "sliding glass doors, or sliding glass door assemblies" as used in chapter 128, Laws of 1963, supra,  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] includes the fixed or side light portions which are normally utilized when such assemblies are installed.

            In our opinion, this question is clearly answerable in the affirmative.  Any other conclusion would, for all practical purposes, cause the alternative phrase "sliding glass door assemblies" to be read out of the statute.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Assistant Attorney General

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