FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

William J. Keveney, III andThe Hartford Courant,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 90-361

 

Hartford City Manager, HartfordFinance Director and Office ofthe Corporation Counsel, Cityof Hartford,

 

Respondents September 11, 1991

 

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 22, May 28 and June 6, 1991, at which times the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

At the hearing on this matter, Chase Family Partnership, Chase Family Limited Partnership No. 3, O & Y (U.S.) Development Company Limited Partnership, O & Y (U.S.) Development General Partnership Corp., and Peat Marwick Main & Co., requested that they be made parties to the administrative proceedings. The hearing officer granted each of them intervenor status for purposes of participation in the hearing. Pursuant to 1-21i(b), G.S., the motion for party status is hereby denied.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

 

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

 

2. By letter dated September 6, 1990 (hereinafter "September letter"), the complainants requested access to, or copies of documents "used in, or concerning" the lawsuit entitled City of Hartford v. David T. Chase, et al., Civil Action No. H-89-223 (PCD), (hereinafter "lawsuit"), filed with the United State's District Court for the District of Connecticut.

 

3. The complainant's document request was hand-delivered to each of the respondents.

 

Docket #FIC 90-361 Page 2

 

4. By letter of complaint dated and hand-delivered to this Commission on September 24, 1990, the complainants alleged that the respondents had failed to provide the information requested in their September letter.

 

5. At the hearing, the parties agreed to request that the Commission take administrative notice of the case file in contested case docket #FIC 89-448 (hereinafter "FIC 89-448.")

 

6. The Commission takes administrative notice of the case file in FIC 89-448.

 

7. It is found that the city of Hartford (hereinafter "City"), and several developers entered into an agreement (the "confidentiality agreement"), related to the construction, operation and financing of two commercial office buildings located in downtown Hartford.

 

8. It is found that subsequent to the drafting and signing of the confidentiality agreement, a dispute arose between the City and the developers, and the City filed the lawsuit.

 

9. It is found that pursuant to the City's request, the district court agreed to keep the pleadings under seal pending final disposition of the lawsuit.

 

10. It is found that the City and the developers entered into a settlement agreement that was approved and adopted by the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, Dorsey, J., (hereinafter "District Court").

 

11. It is found that as part of the District Court's order adopting the settlement between the City and the developers, the contents of the court file, the settlement agreement and documents related to the settlement agreement were sealed (hereinafter "court order.")

 

12. It is found that as a result of the settlement agreement, the City and the developers entered into amended and restated leases relating to the two commercial offfice buildings in downtown Hartford.

 

Docket #FIC 90-361 Page 3

 

13. It is found that on October 31, 1989 the complainants moved to vacate the confidentiality order entered in the lawsuit.

 

14. On March 30, 1990, the District Court granted the complainants' motion to intervene, but denied their request to vacate the confidentiality order (hereinafter "March ruling").

 

15. It is found that on April 6, 1990, the complainants moved for reconsideration of the District Court's March ruling.

 

16. It is found that in their motion they argued that the confidentiality order would give the respondents a defense to disclosure of the requested documents in a proceeding before the Freedom of Information Commission.

 

17. It is found that on July 6, 1990, the District Court issued another opinion, which reiterated its view that the confidentiality order did not preclude this Commission from ordering the respondents to disclose to the complainants documents relating to the lawsuit.

 

18. It is found that the original parties to the lawsuit then moved for reconsideration, arguing that the confidentiality order was a complete bar to disclosure of the requested records under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

19. It is found that on January 9, 1991, the District Court stated that the confidentiality order only precludes disclosure of the court's file.

 

20. By notice of appeal dated January 18, 1991, the respondents appealed the Court's final opinion on the question of the scope of the confidentiality order.

 

21. The Commission takes administrative notice of the fact that on August 14, 1991 the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (hereinafter "Second Circuit") issued its decision regarding the scope of the confidentiality order.

 

Docket #FIC90-361 Page 4

 

22. The Second Circuit ruled that the confidentiality order of the District Court provides a valid defense to disclosure of the documents at issue in a proceeding before the Commission, and remanded the matter to the District Court for an in camera review of all of the records that the respondents believe are covered by the confidentiality order.

 

23. In light of the Second Circuit's decision, the Commission declines to rule on the disclosure of the requested documents until after the District Court has conducted its in camera review of all of the records that the respondents believe are covered by the confidentiality order.

 

24. Regrettably, the Commission recognizes that given the volume of documents at issue, the District Court's in camera review of the documents cannot be completed before September 23, 1991, which is the date by which the Commission must have issued a final decision in this matter or lose its jurisdiction.

 

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.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 11, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC90-361 page 5

 

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

 

RALPH ELLIOT, ESQ. JORGE SIMON, THOMAS COX

Tyler, Cooper & Alcorn Hartford Corp. Counsel's Office

CityPlace - 35th Floor 550 Main Street

Hartford, CT 06103-3488 Hartford, CT 06103

 

CHARLES L. HOWARD, ESQ. JACOB D. ZELDES, ESQ.

Shipman & Goodwin STUART BEAR, ESQ.

One American Row 1000 Lafayette Blvd.

Hartford, CT 06103-2819 P.O. Box 1740

Bridgeport, CT 06601-1740

 

ERIC WATT WIECHMANN, ESQ.

CAROL S. LJUNGQUIST, ESQ.

Cummings & Lockwood

CityPlace I

Hartford, CT 06103

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission