FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Brant Houston and The Hartford Courant,

 

Complainants,

 

against Docket #FIC 87-140

 

Police Department and Office of the City Attorney of the City of Bridgeport,

 

Respondents July 22, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 21, 1987, at which time the complainants and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated May 5, 1987, the complainants requested the respondents allow them access to copies of documents which were at the L'Ambiance Plaza construction site, including, but not limited to, slab designs, specifications and drawings, the sequence of erection and erection proceedings, all job meetings minutes, the engineers' daily log, and all correspondence.

 

3. By letter dated May 7, 1987, the respondent city attorney denied the complainants' request.

 

4. By letter dated and filed with the Commission on May 8, 1987, the complainants appealed to the Commission.

 

5. The respondents claim the documents in question are private records, merely being safeguarded by them, and do not relate to the public's business.

 

6. It is found that on April 25, 1987, Connecticut's deputy chief medical examiner ordered the respondent police department to seize the originals of the records in question.

 

Docket #FIC 87-140 Page Two

 

7. It is found that on May 1, 1987, the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, suppoenaed these records.

 

8. It is also found, however, that the respondents kept copies of the requested records.

 

9. It is concluded, therefore, that these are public records within the meaning of 1-19(a), G.S.

 

10. In addition, it is found that these records document the construction of the L'Ambiance Plaza building, which collapsed on April 23, 1987, killing 28 people.

 

11. It is found that these records relate to the public's safety and ongoing municipal, state and federal non-criminal investigations.

 

12. It is concluded, therefore, that the requested records relate to the conduct of the public's business and are public records within the meaning of 1-18(d), G.S.

 

13. It is further concluded that the respondents violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by denying the complainants' request.

 

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

 

1. The respondents forthwith shall allow the complainants to inspect and copy the records described in paragraph 2 above.

 

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