FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Ethan Book, Jr.,
against Docket #FIC 94-266
State of Connecticut Department of Transportation,
Respondent March 22, 1995
The above-captioned matter was expedited and heard as a contested case on November 17, 1994, at which time 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. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint filed August 8, 1994, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that he received no response from the respondent to his July 6, 1994 request for records.
3. It is found that the complainant by letter dated July 6, 1994 requested the following information from the respondent:
a. "Names of companies and owners, business addresses and telephone numbers for all individuals or companies that have applied for an intra-state livery permit since January 1, 1992.
b. "Names of individuals and companies, description of areas covered, and number of approved vehicles for those entities that have received application approvals since January 1, 1992.
c. "Names of companies and owners, business address and telephone number of all individuals or companies who have been granted permission since January 1, 1992, to increase the fleet number of vehicles and dates that each took effect.
d. "Copies of all correspondence, minutes of meetings, notes recording the content of
Docket #FIC 94-266 Page 2
telephone conversations, facsimile transmissions, and any and all other form of communication which mentions my name, my company name, or my application directly or indirectly.
e. "A list of all persons who were written to or spoken to regarding me, my company, or my application since August of 1992 and copies of all respective notes and communic[a]tions to and from such persons. This listing would include owners, managers, or other personnel of limousine companies operating in the state."
4. It is found that the complainant sought the above information in connection with the respondent's denial of his application for a livery license on April 2, 1993.
5. It is found that the complainant received no information or response from the respondent to his July 7, 1994 request until September, 1994.
6. It is also found that the complainant received no records in response to his request until November, 1994.
7. It is found that the respondent ultimately provided the complainant with copies of records responsive to the requests described in paragraphs 2.a and 2.b, above.
8. It is also found that the respondent provided the complainant with copies of records that contain names and dates of approvals that are responsive to the request described in paragraph 2.c, above, and that the respondent has offered the complainant access to the files from which addresses and phone numbers can be obtained by research.
9. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.
10. Section 1-15(a), G.S., provides in relevant part: "Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record."
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11. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-15(a) and 1-19(a) by failing to promptly provide copies of the records that were ultimately delivered to the complainant.
12. The respondent maintains that it has not actually denied the complainant access to any records.
13. Section 1-21i(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
Any denial of the right to inspect or copy records provided for under section 1-19 shall be made to the person requesting such right by the public agency official who has custody or control of the public record, in writing, within four business days of such request .... Failure to comply with a request to so inspect or copy such public record within the applicable number of business days shall be deemed to be a denial.
14. It is therefore concluded that the respondent's failure to respond in any way to the complainant within four business days of his request constituted a denial of access to public records by operation of 1-21i(a), G.S.
15. It is found that the respondent has offered the complainant access to any non-exempt files from which any information sought in paragraphs 2.c, 2.d and 2.e, above, which has not already been provided to the complainant can be obtained by research.
16. It is also found that any such additional information sought in paragraphs 2.c, 2.d, and 2.e, above, can only be obtained by research.
17. It is concluded that the respondent is not obligated to conduct research on behalf of the complainant.
18. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the Freedom of Information Act by offering the complainant access to non-exempt files rather than conducting research for him.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. With respect to the portion of the complaint concerning the timeliness of the respondent's response, henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.
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2. With respect to the portion of the complaint concerning records for which research is required, the complaint is dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 22, 1995.
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission
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:
ETHAN BOOK, JR.
P.O. Box 1385
Fairfield, CT 06430
STATE OF CONNECTICUT, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
c/o Charles H. Walsh, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
55 Elm Street, 3rd Floor Annex
P.O. Box 120
Hartford, CT 06141-0120
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission