FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 94-330
State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection,
Respondent August 23, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 21, 1995, 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 complained filed September 19, 1994, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that she did not receive the information requested in her August 22, 1994 letter to the respondent.
3. It is found that the complainant by letters dated August 22, 1994 and August 31, 1994, asked the respondent for:
a. the date the respondent received a newspaper article contained in the respondent's files;
b. the names of the individuals who wrote notes concerning the article;
c. the name of the person who sent the article to the respondent;
d. documentation on man-hours of the respondent's employees to investigate the complainant's three exotic cats, including actual dates and time of investigation, what was actually investigated, and the methods of investigation;
e. a written report of the money, materials and man-hours spent on the investigation of the complainant, including phone calls; and
Docket #FIC 94-330 Page 2
f. all names of the respondent's employees and other individuals present on the complainant's property when the exotic cats were confiscated.
4. At the request of the complainant, the Commission takes administrative notice of its record and final decision in Docket #FIC 94-69, Susan DeFrancesco against State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection; and at the request of the respondent, the Commission takes administrative notice of its record and final decision in Docket #FIC 94-178, Susan DeFrancesco against State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.
5. At the hearing on this complaint, the respondent objected to the complainant's representative, which objection was overruled.
6. It is found that the respondent by letters dated September 1 and September 8, 1995 indicatd that it would review its files and provide the complainant with an appropriate response.
7. It is found that the respondent by letter dated December 20, 1994 answered the complainant's questions and provided certain documents responsive to her requests.
8. It is found that many of the complainant's questions related to a newspaper article that had been obtained from the respondent's general files on information concerning dangerous animals, and anonymous notes written on that article.
9. It is found that the respondent made a diligent effort to answer the complainant's questions, including a series of meetings with division directors and other employees, and searches of records in various offices and locations; and that the respondent went beyond the requirements of the FOI Act in seeking answers that were not contained in records.
10. It is found that the respondent has no records responsive to that portion of the complainant's request described in paragraph 3a, above, and does not know when the article was received.
11. It is found that the respondent has no records responsive to that portion of the complainant's request described in paragraph 3b, above, and does not know who authored the unsigned notes.
12. It is found that the respondent has no records responsive to that portion of the complainant's request described in paragraph 3c, above, and does not know who provided the article to the respondent.
Docket #FIC 94-330 Page 3
13. With respect to that portion of the complainant's request described in paragraph 3d, above, it is found that the respondent does not track the time spent on particular matters, but has provided the comlainant with copies of time and activity records for certain of the respondent's employees who the respondent knows were working on the investigation of the complainant on certain days.
14. It is found that the investigative reports provided to the complainant indicate the dates and times of the investigation, and what was investigated.
15. It is found that the records provided to the complainant, although they do not reflect all man-hours spent on the investigation, are responsive to the complainant's request and are all the responsive records that the respondent can reasonably find.
16. With respect to the portion of the complainant's request described in paragraph 3e, above, it is found that the respondent has no records other than the time and activity sheets provided to the complainant.
17. With respect to the portion of the complainant's request described in paragraph 3f, above, it is found the investigative documents provided to the complainant are the only documents that the respondent can reasonably find that are responsive to the complainant's request.
18. The complainant maintains that the respondent must have other records relating to her request.
19. It is found, however, that the complainant was not denied copies of or access to any of the respondent's records.
20. The complainant also maintains that she was not provided a copy of a videotape made of the confiscation of her animals.
21. It is found, however, that the videotape was not requested and is not in the respondent's custody or control.
22. The complainant also maintains that the records she received were not provided promptly.
23. It is found, however, that the amount of time that the respondent took to identify responsive records, locate them, and to answer the complainant's questions, was not unreasonable.
24. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act.
Docket #FIC 94-330 Page 4
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 23, 1995.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 94-330 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:
Ms. Susan DeFrancesco
P.O. Box 42
Wilton, CT 06897
State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection
c/o Eliot D. Prescott, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
55 Elm Street
P.O. Box 120
Hartford, CT 06141-0120
37 North Road
Ashford, CT 06278
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission