Fosscett v. Lake Charles Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Bd., No. 85

CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
Writing for the CourtCULPEPPER; PER CURIAM
Citation125 So.2d 44
PartiesFloyd A. FOSSCETT et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. LAKE CHARLES MUNICIPAL FIRE AND POLICE CIVIL SERVICE BOARD et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Decision Date17 November 1960
Docket NumberNo. 85

Page 44

125 So.2d 44
Floyd A. FOSSCETT et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
LAKE CHARLES MUNICIPAL FIRE AND POLICE CIVIL SERVICE BOARD
et al., Defendants-Appellants.
No. 85.
Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit.
Nov. 17, 1960.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 14, 1960.
Certiorari Denied Feb. 3, 1961.

Page 45

Cormouche, Martin & Lafleur, Edward M. Carmouche, Lake Charles, for defendant-appellant.

Liskow & Bond, George W. Liskow, Lake Charles, for plaintiff-appellee.

Before TATE, FRUGE , HOOD, CULPEPPER and MILLER, JJ.

CULPEPPER, Judge.

A rehearing was granted herein on June 29, 1960, by the Court of Appeal, First Circuit, for the purpose of reconsidering its judgment rendered May 31, 1960. 125 So.2d 41. This case was transferred by the First Circuit to the Third Circuit as of July 1, 1960, and now has come before us for final disposition under the provisions of the 1960 amendment to Article VII, Section 30, of the Louisiana Constitution, LSA-Const., relative to disposition and transfer of appeals by the supreme court and courts of appeal.

The judgment of the Court of Appeal, First Circuit, rendered herein on May 31, 1960, held that Article XIV, Section 15.1, subsection 22, par. a, of the Constitution of the State of Louisiana, which is a part of the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Law, does not require that applicants for promotional examinations be advised of the date, place and time of the examination at least five (5) days in advance thereof. In its opinion the Court stated that the decision of this case turns on the construction of the sentence which follows the requirement that public notice for all tests given on a competitive basis be published in the official journal of the municipality, which sentence reads as follows:

'This notice of examination need not reveal the exact date on which tests shall be administered, but all applicants shall be advised the date, place, and time to report for an announced test at least five days in advance thereof in any manner the board may prescribe.'

In its opinion the First Circuit concluded that the words, 'this notice of examination', appearing in the above quoted sentence, refer to the public notice for competitive tests mentioned in the sentence immediately preceding. The Court was following the so-called 'last antecedent' doctrine of statutory construction. This doctrine and its limitations are set forth in 82 C.J.S. Statutes § 334, p. 670, as follows:

'By what is known as the doctrine of the 'last antecedent,' relative and qualifying words, phrases, and clauses are to be applied to the words or phrase immediately preceding, and are not to be construed as extending to or including others more remote; nor are they ordinarily to be construed as extending to following words. This rule is, however, merely an aid to construction to be applied only where there exist uncertainties and ambiguities in the statute, and when other and more important rules of construction fail; and the clear intent of the legislature takes precedence as a canon of construction. Accordingly, the doctrine of 'last antecedent' will not be adhered to where extension to a more remote antecedent is clearly required by a consideration of the entire act. Slight indication of legislative intent so to extend the relative term is sufficient. Where several words are followed by a clause as much applicable to the first and other words as to the last, the clause should be read as applicable to all.'

In the case of Buras et al. v. Fidelity & Deposit Company of Maryland, 197 La. 378, 1 So.2d 552, 554, our Supreme Court followed and amplified the above rule, holding as follows:

"The universal and most effectual way of discovering the true meaning of

Page 46

a law, when its expressions are dubious, is by considering the reason and spirit of it, or the clause which induced the Legislature to enact it.' Article 18, Revised Civil Code. 'Punctuation * * * cannot control its (a statute's) construction against the manifest intent of the legislature, and the court will punctuate or disregard punctuation * * * to ascertain and give effect to the real intent * * *' (59 Corpus Juris 989, Section 590. Brackets ours), and the doctrine of the 'last antecedent' that 'relative and qualifying words, phrases, and clauses are to be applied to the words or phrases immediately preceding, and are not to be construed as extending to or including others more remote' is 'merely an aid to construction and will not be adhered to where extension to a more remote antecedent is clearly required by consideration of the entire act."

We are of the opinion that in order to porperly determine the legislative intent, it is necessary to consider this language not only in context with the remaining provisions of the particular sub-section involved but likewise in context as relates to the entire section (15.1) dealing with the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Law, Dore v. Tugwell, 228 La. 807, 84...

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1 practice notes
  • Regional Urology, L.L.C. v. Price, No. 42,789-CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • September 26, 2007
    ...untimely. The last antecedent is a rule of statutory construction. Fosscett v. Lake Charles Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board, 125 So.2d 44 (La.App. 3d Cir.1960). However, the rule should apply only where there are uncertainties or ambiguities, when other rules of construction f......
1 cases
  • Regional Urology, L.L.C. v. Price, No. 42,789-CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • September 26, 2007
    ...untimely. The last antecedent is a rule of statutory construction. Fosscett v. Lake Charles Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board, 125 So.2d 44 (La.App. 3d Cir.1960). However, the rule should apply only where there are uncertainties or ambiguities, when other rules of construction f......

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