FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Alta Lash and United Seniors in Action,
against Docket #FIC 91-373
Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Insurance,
Respondent November 12, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 23, 1992, at which time the complainants and 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. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G. S.
2. By letter of request dated November 5, 1991, the complainants sought copies of records relating to Blue Cross and Blue Shield's underwriting gains and losses exhibits, specifically Medigap insurance exhibits, (hereinafter "exhibits"), for the first and second quarters of 1991, and "the ensuing quarters upon filing."
3. By letter of complaint filed with this Commission on December 4, 1991, the complainants alleged that the respondent failed to comply with their records request.
4. It is found that on or about February 5, 1992, the respondent provided the complainants with copies of the exhibits.
5. The complainants agree that there has been full compliance with their request, but argue that the compliance was not prompt, as required by 1-15, G. S.
6. It is found that at all times prior to September, 1991, the exhibits were publicly disclosed.
Docket #FIC 91-373 Page 2
7. It is found that in September, 1991, Blue Cross and Blue Shield requested that the respondent treat the exhibits as confidential information.
8. It is found that at the time of the request there had been only one exhibit filed with the respondent, and it was filed with the stipulation that the information contained therein remain confidential.
9. It is found that while the respondent recognized that his past policy of disclosure of exhibit data had created an expectation that it would always be disclosed, he nevertheless believed that until such time as an agreement about disclosure could be reached with Blue Cross and Blue Shield, he had an obligation to treat the limited exhibits in his possession as protected documents, in accordance with 1-19(b)(5) and 1-19(b)(8), G. S.
10. At all times material, Blue Cross and Blue Shield claimed that 1-19(b)(5) and 1-19(b)(8), G. S., were applicable to the records at issue.
11. It is found that from September 1991 through February 1992, the respondent was engaged in negotiations with Blue Cross and Blue Shield regarding the issue of public disclosure of the exhibits.
12. It is found that the February 1992 compliance with the complainants' request was the direct result of the respondent's ongoing efforts to persuade Blue Cross and Blue Shield to publicly disclose the exhibits.
13. Under the facts of this case it is found that compliance was not prompt but was in fact timely; the exhibits were provided to the complainants immediately after the respondent negotiated consent to disclosure.
14. Section 1-19(b)(5), G. S., states in relevant part that disclosure is not required of "trade secrets...defined as ...commercial or financial information given in confidence, not required by statute...."
15. It is found that the exhibit data is a voluntary filing by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and not required by the respondent for purposes of rate setting.
16. Under the facts of this case, it is found that the exhibit data is a "trade secret" within the meaning of 1-19(b)(5), G. S., but not a "statement of personal worth or personal financial data" within the meaning of 1-19(b)(8), G. S.
Docket #FIC 91-373 Page 3
17. It is concluded that 1-19(b)(5), G.S., not 1-19(b)(8), G.S., is applicable to the records at issue.
18. It is concluded that the respondent's decision to withhold disclosure of the exhibit data was within his discretion in accordance with the provisions of 1-19(b)(5), G.S.
19. Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondent did not violate the spirit or intent of the open records provisions of Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act.
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 November 12, 1992.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 91-373 Page 4
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:
United Seniors in Action
P.O. Box 6422
Hartford, CT 06126
Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Insurance
c/o Assistant Attorney General William J. Prensky
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission