FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
against Docket #FIC 90-393
Milton R. Stern, Department of English, University of Connecticut and University of Connecticut Editorial Committee for the University Press of New England,
Respondents September 11, 1991
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 14 and April 19, 1991, at which times the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Docket #'s FIC 90-390 through 90-398 were consolidated for hearing with the above-captioned matter.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent Stern, as a member of the University of Connecticut faculty, is a public agency within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
2. The complainant failed to prove that the University of Connecticut Editorial Committee for the University Press of New England is a public agency within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
3. By letter dated August 20, 1990 (hereinafter "August request"), the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with access to, and copies of "all information concerning [him], [his] affairs or [his] manuscript" not provided pursuant to the settlement agreement in Docket #FIC 90-148, Lamberto Lucarelli v. University of Connecticut (hereinafter "Docket #FIC 90-148").
4. By letter dated September 10, 1990, the complainant reiterated his August request.
Docket #FIC 90-393 Page 2
5. By letter dated September 11, 1990, the respondent's counsel notified the complainant that "all reasonable efforts [had been] made to comply with [his] requests," and copies of all responsive documents that were in the University's possession had been furnished to the complainant on or about August 9, 1990.
6. By letter dated September 21, 1990, and filed with the Commission on September 24, 1990, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging a failure of the respondent to respond to and comply with his document request.
7. It is found that the information provided to the complainant by the University of Connecticut on or about August 9, 1990 by way of settlement of the contested case in Docket #FIC 90-148, included all of the information in the possession of the respondents which was in any way responsive to the complainant's request.
8. The complainant also requested the imposition of civil penalties.
9. The respondent requested that the Commission take administrative notice of the record and case file in contested case docket #FIC 90-148.
10. The respondent argues that the issue before this Commission in contested case docket #'s FIC 90-390 through 90-398 was in fact heard and decided in contested case docket #FIC 90-148.
11. The respondent notes that the complaint in contested case docket #FIC 90-148 was dismissed in accordance with a settlement agreement entered into by the parties and complied with by the respondent on or about August 9, 1990.
12. The Commission takes administrative notice of the record and case file in contested case docket #FIC 90-148.
13. It is found that the issue of the respondent's noncompliance with the complainant's document request concerning information allegedly in the possession or custody of the named respondents in contested case docket #'s FIC 90-390 through 90-398, was in fact the subject of the complaint which was heard and decided in contested case docket #FIC 90-148.
Docket #FIC 90-393 Page 3
14. It is found that the information provided to the complainant by the respondent on or about August 9, 1990 in connection with the settlement agreement in contested case docket #FIC 90-148, is all of the information in the possession of the respondent which is in any way responsive to the complainant's document request in this case.
15. It is found that based upon the complainant's claims of indigency the University provided him with approximately 825 pages of documents as part of the settlement agreement in contested case docket #FIC 90-148, free of charge.
16. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant testified that he is seeking information pertaining to a manuscript allegedly submitted to faculty members of the University. Specifically, the complainant sought the identities and evaluative comments of all readers of the manuscript.
17. It is found that the information that the complainant is seeking regarding a manuscript allegedly submitted by him to members of the University faculty, is not information contained in documents that either the University or a member of the University faculty has an obligation to maintain as a public record under the Freedom of Information Act.
18. It is found that most of the records the complainant requested from the respondent are records that were created by the complainant.
19. It is found that the complainant retains either copies or drafts of what he allegedly supplies to the respondent.
20. It is found that there is no legal requirement that a University professor retain copies of every piece of correspondence allegedly generated by him, or allegedly sent to him by a student over the course of approximately ten years.
21. Section 1-18a(d) states in relevant part that:
"Public records or files" means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received, or retained by a public agency, (emphasis added). . . .
22. It is found that under the circumstances of this case, most of the documents requested by the complainant are not public records within the meaning of §1-18a(d), G.S.
Docket #FIC 90-393 Page 4
23. However, it is found that all reasonable efforts have been made by the respondent to find and provide to the complainant the documents that are responsive to his request.
24. It is found that under the circumstances of this case, all records in the possession or custody of the University or University personnel, pertaining to matters involving the complainant have been supplied to the complainant.
25. It is found that the respondent has complied with the disclosure requirements of §§1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., to the best of his ability.
26. It is found that this appeal is one of ten successive appeals by the complainant that have been based upon repeated requests for the same information.
27. It is found that with respect to the requested records this appeal was taken frivolously, without reasonable grounds and principally for the purpose of harassing the respondent.
28. It is found that the respondent failed to promptly respond to the complainant's August request.
29. However, under the unique facts of this case, and for the reasons set forth in paragraphs 24-26 of the findings, above, it is concluded that the respondent's failure to respond to a document request identical to several that had already been complied with, was not an attempt by him to avoid or ignore the disclosure requirements of §1-15, G.S.
30. The record does not support the imposition of civil penalties against the respondent, and the Commission declines to impose them.
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 #FIC90-393 page 6
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:
21 Howard Street
Old Saybrook, CT 06475
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Karen J. Haggett
Clerk of the Commission