FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Raymond D. Shea and Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 87-111

 

Finance Director of the Town of West Hartford,

 

Respondent July 22, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 1, 1987, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:

 

1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated January 2, 1987 the complainants made a request of the respondent for a list of the names and addresses of all retired employees of the Town of West Hartford.

 

3. By letter dated January 7, 1987 the respondent offered to provide the complainants with a list of retirees' names, but denied the complainants' request for addresses.

 

4. By letter dated January 13, 1987 the complainants asked the respondent to forward the offered list of names and to cite the statutory basis for withholding addresses.

 

5. By letter dated January 21, 1987 the respondent provided the complainants with a list of retirees' names and cited 1-19(b), G.S. as a basis for withholding addresses.

 

6. By letter dated February 23, 1987 the complainants renewed their request for a list of retirees' names and addresses.

 

7. By letter dated April 8, 1987 the respondent, through counsel, denied the complainants' request, citing 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 87-111 Page Two

 

8. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on April 15, 1987, the complainants appealed the respondent's denial of their request for records.

 

9. The respondent claims the Commission lacks jurisdiction over the complaint because it was not filed within 30 days of the respondent's January 7, 1987 denial of the January 2, 1987 request, nor was it filed within 30 days of the respondent's statutory denial, within the meaning of 1-21i(a), G.S., of the February 23, 1987 request.

 

10. It is found that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act precludes a party from resubmitting a previously-denied request for records and appealing any subsequent denial thereof.

 

11. It is also found that the respondent's April 8, 1987 letter was a denial of access to records from which the complainant was entitled to file an appeal as provided by 1-21i(b), G.S.

 

12. The respondent's request that the Commission dismiss the appeal for lack of timeliness is, therefore, denied.

 

13. The respondent claims the addresses requested are of non-employees and are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

14. It is found that the addresses of retired employees of the Town of West Hartford are maintained in personnel, medical or similar files within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

15. It is found, however, that addresses are not private facts, but are instead published in directories available to every member of the public.

 

16. The respondent failed to prove that any of the retirees in question took extraordinary steps to keep his or her address out of the public domain and inaccessible through directory references.

 

17. It is concluded that disclosure of the addresses of Town of West Hartford retirees does not constitute an invasion of personal privacy within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

18. It is found that the Town of West Hartford's contacts with its retirees includes providing them with pension, health and life insurance benefits.

 

Docket #FIC 87-111 Page Three

 

19. The respondent claims that because the Town of West Hartford is partially self-insured with respect to medical benefits, it is bound by provisions of Chapter 695, G.S., which prohibit disclosure of personal information, including addresses.

 

20. Section 38-513, G.S. limits disclosure, by an "insurance institution, agent or insurance-support organization," of personal or privileged information received in connection with an insurance transaction.

 

21. It is found that for purposes of 38-513, G.S. the Town of West Hartford is neither an "insurance institution" as defined by 38-501(l), G.S., an "agent" as defined by 38-69, G.S., or an "insurance-support organization" as defined by of 38-501(m), G.S.

 

22. It is concluded that the respondent is not precluded by the provisions of Chapter 695, G.S., from releasing the addresses of Town of West Hartford retirees.

 

23. The respondent further claims that the insurance company that presently administers the Town's insurance plan is prohibited from disclosing addresses and that disclosure of the addresses by the respondent would assist in the circumvention of the provisions of Chapter 695, G.S.

 

24. It is found that the responsibilities of insurance institutions, agents and insurance-support institutions pursuant to Chapter 695 do not limit or otherwise affect the responsibilities of the respondent or of the Town of West Hartford under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

25. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S. when he failed to provide the complainants with a list of retirees' addresses, as requested.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.

 

1. The respondent forthwith shall provide the complainants with a list of the names and addresses of all retired employees of the Town of West Hartford, current to the date of the Final Decision in this matter.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 22, 1987.

 

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission