FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Alex F. Carrozelli,
against Docket #FIC 94-70
Mayor, City of Bridgeport; Bridgeport City Attorney;
Bridgeport Finance Department; Bridgeport Office of Policy and
Management; Bridgeport Common Council; and City of Bridgeport,
Respondents February 24, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 14, 1994, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. This case was consolidated for hearing with FIC 94-91, Alex F. Carozzelli against Director, Bridgeport Office of Labor Relations and FIC 94-177, Alex F. Carozzelli against Acting Director, Bridgeport Office of Policy and Management.
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 of complaint filed March 7, 1994, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents failed to meet an agreed-upon deadline of March 4, 1994, to provide certain information, and that the respondents did not reply to his February 17 and 18, 1994 requests for additional information.
3. It is found that the complainant had previously been employed by Bridgeport as a risk manager, that at all times material he had a pending workers compensation claim against the city as his former employer, and that the information he sought pertained to that claim.
4. It is found that the complainant by letter dated November 10, 1993 requested from the respondents extensive information including:
a. a copy of his personnel file;
Docket #FIC 94-70 Page 2
b. a copy of the city pension rules applicable to him;
c. a list of all labor relations office personnel 1/1/88 through 12/31/92;
d. a list of all labor relations personnel assigned to duties in connection with workers compensation benefits, including their job descriptions and any documents announcing changes in their duties; and
e. a list of all other personnel assigned to duties considered to be under the category of "risk management," including independent contractors.
5. It is found that the respondents responded to the complainant's November 10, 1994 request on February 7, 1994, by indicating where the requested documents were available for inspection.
6. It is also found that the respondent by letter dated February 16, 1994 agreed to provide all the information requested in the November 10, 1993 letter.
7. It is further found that the respondent by letter dated March 8, 1994 provided copies of certain records to the complainant pursuant to the February 16, 1994 letter agreement.
8. The complainant maintains that the records that were made available to him on or after February 7, 1994 and the copies that were provided to him on or about March 8, 1994 are incomplete, and that he was therefore denied access to or copies of public records on those dates.
9. Given the broad nature of the complainant's requests, it is impossible to determine whether the respondents have provided every conceivable document that is responsive to his requests.
10. It is found, however, that the records made available to the complainant on February 7, 1994 and the copies provided to him on March 8, 1994 are reasonably responsive to his November 10, 1993 request and the February 16, 1994 agreement to comply with that request.
11. The Commission notes that the complainant is free to make further requests for any identifiable documents that he believes he still does not have.
12. It is found that the complainant by letter dated February 17, 1994 requested certain records pertaining to the mayor's task force concerning the transfer of risk management functions to the department of finance.
Docket #FIC 94-70 Page 3
13. It is found that the respondents provided no records in response to the complainant's February 17, 1994 letter.
14. It is also found that the complainant by letter dated February 18, 1994 requested certain budget documents, also concerning risk management.
15. It is also found that the respondents provided no records in response to the complainant's February 18, 1994 letter.
16. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
17. The respondents maintain that they were not required to respond to the complainant's February 17 and 18, 1994 requests while his workers compensation claim remained pending and other requests were being made by the complainant's workers compensation attorney.
18. Specifically, the respondents maintain that 1-19(b)(4) and 1-19b(b)(1), G.S., permitted them not to provide the requested records.
19. Section 1-19(b)(4), G.S., provides that the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act does not require disclosure of "records pertaining to strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which the public agency is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled ...."
20. It is found, however, that the respondents failed to prove that any of the requested records concern strategy or negotiation with respect to the pending workers compensation claim.
21. Section 1-19b(b)(1), G.S., provides that nothing in the FOI Act shall be deemed to "limit the rights of litigants, including parties to administrative proceedings, under the laws of discovery of this state ...."
22. It is found, however, that the respondents failed to demonstrate the existence of any rights of discovery in the pending workers compensation proceeding.
23. It is concluded that while the pendency of requests for information from the complainant's workers compensation attorney may reasonably have affected the priority accorded to the complainant's own requests, it did not excuse the respondents from any response to him.
Docket #FIC 94-70 Page 4
24. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide copies of the records requested by the complainant on February 17 and 18, 1994, promptly upon request.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondents shall forthwith provide to the complainant copies of the records identified in his February 17 and 18, 1994 requests.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 22, 1995.
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 94-70 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:
ALEX F. CARROZELLI
16 Richards Lane
Norwalk, CT 06851
MAYOR, CITY OF BRIDGEPORT; BRIDGEPORT CITY ATTORNEY; BRIDGEPORT FINANCE DEPARTMENT; BRIDGEPORT OFFICE OF POLICY AND MANAGEMENT; BRIDGEPORT COMMON COUNCIL; AND CITY OF BRIDGEPORT,
c/o John H. Barton, Esq.
Office of the City Attorney
202 State Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission