FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Ralph Carabetta,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-396

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut Department of Transportation and Bureau of Highways and Bureau of Planning, State of Connecticut Department of Transportation,

 

Respondents April 27, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 17, 1988, at which time the respondents appeared but the complainant failed to appear. The complaint was dismissed for failure to prosecute. Evidence was taken, however, on the issue of the respondents' request for the imposition of a civil penalty pursuant to 1-21i(b), G.S.

 

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

 

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated December 24, 1987, hand-delivered to the respondents on December 29, 1987, the complainant made a request of the respondents for records concerning the condemnation of property by the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation.

 

3. Also on December 29, 1987 the complainant submitted a complaint to the Commission alleging that he had been denied access to the records referred to at paragraph 2, above.

 

4. It is found that on December 29, 1987 the complainant was informed by the respondents that the requested records were in the possession of a consulting engineering firm. The respondents contacted the firm and asked it to make such records available to the complainant. On December 31, 1987 the firm gave the complainant access to approximately 2,000 pages of records, of which he requested and was given copies of approximately 100 pages.

 

Docket #FIC 87-396 Page Two

 

5. It is found that at the time of the complainant's complaint to the Commission, he had not been provided access to all of the records requested.

 

6. It is found that although premature, the complainant's appeal to the Commission was not taken frivolously, without reasonable grounds and solely for the purpose of harassing the respondents within the meaning of 1-21i(b), G.S.

 

7. The respondents' request for the imposition of a civil penalty is hereby denied.

 

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

 

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

2. The respondents' request for the imposition of a civil penalty pursuant to 1-21i(b), G.S. is hereby denied. The Commission notes, however, that the complainant's failure to withdraw his appeal upon receipt of the records or, in the alternative, appear for hearing, was irresponsible and borders on the abuse of the rights granted under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 27, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission