FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 95-200
Director of Security, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction,
Respondent May 22, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 17, 1996, 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 dated June 1, 1995, the complainant, through counsel, requested that the respondent provide her with a copy of the Department of Correction (hereinafter "DOC") security division investigation file #94-42.
3. By letter dated June 5, 1995, the respondent denied the complainant's request, stating that its denial was based on a recommendation from the Attorney General's office.
4. By letter and notice of appeal dated June 13, 1995, and filed June 16, 1995, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying her request.
5. It is found that commencing in the fall of 1994, certain activities of the complainant, who was then employed as a nurse by the DOC, were investigated by the DOC security division and documented in investigation file #94-42.
6. It is found that the records contained in investigation file #94-42 are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
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7. It is found that portions of a report contained in the investigation file were read into the record at a March 2, 1995 DOC disciplinary hearing, but the complainant was never provided with a copy of the report.
8. It is found that the complainant was terminated from her employment with the DOC on March 31, 1995, based upon the information contained in the investigation file and report in #94-42.
9. The respondent maintains that it did not provide the investigation file to the complainant because it was concerned about the personal safety of staff members and inmate patients who had provided statements against the complainant in connection with the investigation.
10. It is found, based upon an in camera review of the investigation file, that the statements against the complainant consist of alleged threats toward, and harassment of, other staff members and patient inmates.
11. It is found, however, that the names of the witnesses and a summary of their testimony were read into the record at the March 2, 1995 disciplinary hearing, referred to in paragraph 7, above.
12. It is further found that the respondent made no promise of confidentiality to any witness concerning his or her statement during the course of the investigation.
13. It is found that the investigation file is not exempt from disclosure based on the respondent's fear about the personal safety of witnesses who provided statements against the complainant.
14. The respondent also claims that the investigation file is exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(2), G.S., because disclosure would constitute an invasion of the personal privacy of the witnesses who provided statements in the investigation file.
15. Section 1-19(b)(2), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of "personnel or medical files and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy."
16. It is found that the investigation file is not similar to a personnel file with respect to any witness identified in the report, other than the complainant.
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17. It is further found, however, that portions of the investigation file contain medical information concerning health care provided to certain inmate patients, and that such portions of the investigation file are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
18. It is concluded that the investigation file is subject to disclosure to the complainant, with the exception of the medical information described in paragraph 17, above.
19. It is further concluded that by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of the non-exempt portions of the investigation file, the respondent violated the provisions of 1-15(a), G.S.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent shall immediately provide the complainant with a copy of the investigation file, described in paragraph 5 of the findings, above, without charge.
2. The Commission, in its discretion, declines to order the disclosure of the names of the witnesses. Accordingly, the respondent may redact the names of witnesses and any identifying information such as job titles and inmate numbers from the copy provided in accordance with paragraph 1 of the order, above.
3. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-15(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 22, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 95-200 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:
c/o Brian S. Karpe, Esq.
81 Wethersfield Avenue
Hartford, CT 06114
Director of Security, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction
c/o Margaret Quilter Chapple, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission