FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by AMENDED FINAL DECISION
Raymond D. Shea and Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut,
against Docket #FIC 87-111
Finance Director of the Town of West Hartford,
Respondent March 11, 1992
The above-captioned matter was originally heard as a contested case on June 1, 1987, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The Commission's Final Decision dated July 22, 1987 was mailed on July 27, 1987.
On August 21, 1987 the respondent filed an administrative appeal of the Commission's Final Decision: Town of West Hartford, et al. v. Freedom of Information Commission, et al. On April 9, 1991 the Connecticut Supreme Court released its decision in West Hartford, et al. v. Freedom of Information Commission, et al., 218 Conn. 256 (1991). In its decision the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's ruling sustaining the appeal.
The Court concluded that the appeal to the Commission was timely filed and therefore the Commission had subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint. The Court also concluded that as a general rule, addresses are available in public directories. However, recognizing that some individuals deliberately attempt to keep their addresses inaccessible, the Court determined that the Commission should provide an opportunity for any Town of West Hartford (hereinafter "Town"), retiree to demonstrate that he had taken extraordinary steps to keep his address inaccessible.
Consistent with the Court's judgment of reversal and remand, on November 18, 1991 the respondent submitted a letter and copies of ten affidavits from ten retirees formerly employed by the Town. The letter and affidavits have been marked as after-filed "respondent's exhibit 1."
Docket #FIC 87-111 Page Two
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter dated January 2, 1987 the complainants made a request of the respondent for a list of the names and addresses of all retired employees of the Town.
3. By letter dated January 7, 1987 the respondent offered to provide the complainants with a list of retirees' names, but denied the complainants' request for the retirees' addresses.
4. By letter dated January 13, 1987 the complainants asked the respondent to forward the list of names and to cite the statutory basis for withholding the addresses.
5. By letter dated January 21, 1987 the respondent provided the complainants with a list of retirees' names and cited 1-19(b), G.S. as the basis for withholding the addresses.
6. By letter dated February 23, 1987 the complainants renewed their request for a list of retirees names and addresses.
7. By letter dated April 8, 1987 the respondent, through counsel, denied the complainants' request, citing 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
8. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on April 15, 1987, the complainants appealed the respondent's denial of their request for records.
9. The respondent claimed the Commission lacked jurisdiction over the complaint because it was not filed within 30 days of the respondent's January 7, 1987 denial of the January 2, 1987 request, nor was it filed within 30 days of the respondent's statutory denial, within the meaning of 1-21i(a), G.S., of the February 23, 1987 request.
10. It is found that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act precludes a party from resubmitting a previously-denied request for records and appealing any subsequent denial thereof.
11. It is also found that the respondent's April 8, 1987 letter was a denial of access to records from which the complainant was entitled to file an appeal as provided by 1-21i(b), G.S.
Docket #FIC 87-111 Page Three
12. It is concluded that the Supreme Court held that the appeal to the Commission was timely filed and therefore the Commission had subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint.
13. The respondent's request that the Commission dismiss the appeal for lack of timeliness was, therefore, properly denied.
14. The respondent claimed the addresses requested were exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
15. It is found that the addresses of retired employees of the Town are maintained in personnel, medical or similar files within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
16. It is also found that addresses are not private facts, but are instead published in directories available to every member of the public.
17. It is found that on November 18, 1991 the respondent submitted copies of ten affidavits from ten retirees formerly employed by the Town.
18. It is found that each of the ten affidavits articulates an objection to disclosure of the individual's address.
19. It is found that the complainant has been fully apprised of the content of the ten affidavits and does not object to the respondent's withholding the addresses of those ten individuals.
20. It is therefore concluded that the Commission need not reach the question of whether or not any of the ten retirees has made a showing that by virtue of significant or extraordinary efforts he has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his address.
21. It is concluded that disclosure of the addresses of Town retirees, excluding the addresses of the ten retirees more fully described in paragraphs 17 and 18 of the findings, above, does not constitute an invasion of personal privacy within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
22. It is found that the Town provides its retirees with pension, health and life insurance benefits.
23. The respondent claimed that because the Town was partially self-insured with respect to medical benefits, it was bound by provisions of Chapter 705, G.S., which prohibit disclosure of personal information, including addresses.
Docket #FIC 87-111 Page Four
24. Section 38a-988 (formerly 38-513), G.S., limits disclosure, by an "insurance institution, agent or insurance-support organization," of personal or privileged information received in connection with an insurance transaction.
25. It is found that for purposes of 38a-988, G.S., the Town is neither an "insurance institution" as defined by 38a-976(l)[formerly 38-501(l)], G.S., an "agent" as defined by 38a-702(1)[formerly 38-69], G.S., or an "insurance-support organization" as defined by of 38a-976(m)(1)[formerly 38-501(m)], G.S.
26. It is concluded that the respondent is not precluded by the provisions of Chapter 705, G.S., from releasing the addresses of Town retirees.
27. The respondent further claims that the insurance company that presently administers the Town's insurance plan is prohibited from disclosing addresses and that disclosure of the addresses by the respondent would assist in the circumvention of the provisions of Chapter 705, G.S.
28. It is found that the responsibilities of insurance institutions, agents and insurance-support institutions pursuant to Chapter 705, G.S., do not limit or otherwise affect the responsibilities of the respondent or of the Town of West Hartford under the Freedom of Information Act.
29. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., when he failed to provide the complainants with a list of retirees' addresses, as set forth in paragraph 21 of the findings, above.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainants with a list of the names and addresses of all retired employees of the Town, excluding the addresses of the ten retirees identified in paragraphs 17 and 18 of the findings, above, current to the date of the Final Decision in this matter.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 11, 1992.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 87-111 Page Five
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:
Raymond D. Shea
Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut
215 Washington Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Finance Director of the Town of West Hartford
c/o Attorney Elizabeth Dee Bailey
Assistant Corporation Counsel
28 South Main Street
West Hartford, CT 06107
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission