In the Matter of a Complaint by                        Final Decision


Gerald R. Karp,




                against                   Docket #FIC 91-53


Chief, Newington Volunteer Ambulance,


                                Respondent                          February 26, 1992


                The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 20, 1991 and January 6, 1992, at which times the complainant 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 and conclusions of law are reached:


                1.  By letter dated February 25, 1991 and filed February 26, 1991 the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent denied access to certain records of the respondent's department, the Newington Volunteer Ambulance (hereinafter "department").


                2.  At the hearing on this matter the respondent conceded that his department does not currently follow the provisions of the Freedom of Information (hereinafter "FOI") Act.


                3.  It is concluded that the test for determining whether an agency such as the department is a public agency for purposes of 1-18a(a), G.S., is one of functional equivalence, as outlined by the Supreme Court in Board of Trustees of Woodstock Academy, et al. v. Freedom of Information Commission, et al., 181 Conn. 544 (1980).  The Court has concluded that the criteria to be utilized in determining whether an entity such as the respondent is the functional equivalent of a public agency are (1) the level of governmental funding; (2) the extent of government involvement or regulation; (3) whether the entity performs a governmental function; and (4) whether the entity was created by the government.


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                4.  It is further concluded, based upon Connecticut Humane Society v. FOI Commission, 218 Conn. 757, 761 (1991), that "all four factors are not necessary for a finding of functional equivalence, but that all relevant factors are to be considered cumulatively, with no single factor being essential or conclusive."


                5.  It is found that the department's two ambulances are insured under policies covering the town of Newington (hereinafter "town"); that the town provides gasoline for the department's ambulances; that the town pays for the department's general equipment maintenance; that the town provides worker's compensation coverage for members of the department; that with the exception of telephone services, the town pays for the department's utility costs; that the town permits the department to use one of the town buildings to house the department's ambulances; and that the department does not pay rent to the town for use of its building nor does it pay for building maintenance.


                6.  It is found that the department receives annual funding from the town which ranged from approximately 15% of the department's budget in 1989 to approximately one-half of the department's budget in 1990.


                7.  It is concluded that a substantial portion of the department's costs and expenses are paid for with public funds.


                8.  It is found that the department is subject to state statutes that govern Emergency Medical Services pursuant to 19a-175, G.S., et seq.


                9.  It is further found that the department is subject to the regulations of the state's Office of Emergency Medical Services, pursuant to 19a-178 - 179, G.S.


                10.  It is concluded that the respondent's department is subject to substantial government involvement or regulation.


                11.  Section 19a-183, G.S., requires the establishment of regional emergency medical services councils, comprised of towns designated by the Commissioner of Health Services.


                12.  Section 19a-184, G.S., requires emergency medical services councils to forward to the Commissioner of Health Services an emergency medical services plan for its region.


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                13.  Section 19a-182(b), G.S., requires each emergency medical services council to develop and annually revise a plan for the delivery of emergency medical services in its area.


                14.  Section 19a-175(k), G.S., provides that if no emergency medical services council exists within a region, the Commissioner of Health Services shall develop in conjunction with the regional coordinator the emergency medical services plan for such region.


                15.  It is found that the provision of emergency ambulance transportation services are among the required components of an emergency medical services plan pursuant to 19a-175, G.S., et seq.


                16.  Section 19a-190, G.S, provides that a municipality may contract with a volunteer ambulance company for the performance of ambulance services.


                17.  It is found that the town has a contract with the department as provided for in 19a-190, G.S.


                18.  It is found that the town contracts with a private vendor to provide ambulance services during the hours when the department is not in operation.


                19.  It is concluded, based upon the statutes set forth in paragraphs 11 through 18 above, that emergency medical services, including ambulance services, are a governmental function.


                20.  It is concluded therefore that the department and the respondent, as its chief, perform a governmental function.


                21.  It is found that the department was incorporated as a non-stock corporation under state law by a group of individuals and that the department's members elect its board of directors and officers.


                22.  Consequently, it is concluded that the department was not specifically created by government.


                23.  Nonetheless, it is concluded, based on the totality of relevant factors, that the department and the respondent, as its chief, constitute public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S., and are therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission.


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                24.  By letters dated December 13, 1990 and February 9, 1991 the complainant requested from the respondent copies of the following: a) the minutes of the respondent's meeting during which there was a determination of his guilt or innocence; b) the agenda for said meeting; and c) the letter that was sent to him apprising him that he would be discussed during the meeting.


                25.  In the complainant's February 9, 1991 letter, he also made a request for copies of any complaints that were lodged against him.


                26.  It is found that by letters to the complainant dated December 26, 1990 and February 19, 1991, the respondent indicated that no formal meeting took place prior to the suspension of the complainant's driving privileges, and that therefore no meeting agenda or minutes exist.


                27.  It is found that in the respondent's February 19, 1991 letter he also informed the complainant that he would provide him with a copy of the written complaint against him when the complainant made an appointment to pick it up.


                28.  It is found that in the respondent's December 26, 1990 letter, he advised the complainant that as a matter of standard operating procedure, he decided to temporarily suspend the complainant's driving privileges following the receipt of several oral and one written complaint concerning the complainant's alleged unsafe ambulance operation. 


                29.  It is found that in the respondent's December 26, 1990 letter, he further indicated that the complainant's driving privileges were suspended only until the complainant met with the department's assistant chief to discuss the complaints.


                30.  It is found that on or about November 29, 1990 the department's assistant chief spoke with the complainant concerning the complaints, discussed ambulance operating procedures and thereafter rescinded the complainant's suspended status.


                31.  It is found that neither the respondent's decision to temporarily revoke the complainant's driving privileges nor the November 29, 1990 discussion between the complainant and the department's assistant chief constituted a "meeting" of a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.


                32.  It is concluded therefore, that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act by failing to provide the complainant with a


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copy of an agenda or meeting minutes in response to his request.


                33.  It is further concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act with respect to the complainant's request for copies of any written complaints lodged against him.


                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 Commission notes the respondent's concession in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, and reminds the respondent, that both he and the department, as public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S., are obligated to comply with the provisions of the FOI Act.


Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 26, 1992.



                                                Debra L. Rembowski

                                                Acting Clerk of the Commission


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Gerald R. Karp

Karp Insurance Group, Inc.

241 Main Street, 5N

Hartford, CT 06106


Richard Scanlon

Chief, Newington Volunteer Ambulance

John Stewart Drive

Newington, CT 06111



                                                Debra L. Rembowski

                                                Acting Clerk of the Commission