Freedom of Information Commission
of the State of Connecticut
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Robert D. Fitzgerald,
against Docket #FIC 95-264
Benefits Coordinator, Bridgeport
Benefits Office on Workers’
Compensation, and Director,
Bridgeport Benefits and Labor
Respondents July 10, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 16, 1996, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letters dated June 10, June 16, July 3, and July 24, 1995, the complainant requested that the respondent benefits coordinator provide him with a copy of the following:
a) the life insurance policy covering him as a former employee of the city
of Bridgeport (hereinafter “the city”) issued to the city by Northwestern
Nation Life Insurance Company (hereinafter “NNL”);
b) a copy of his updated life insurance beneficiary card; and
c) any other information on file concerning his life insurance coverage.
3. By letter dated July 13, 1995, the complainant requested that the respondent director provide him with copies of any records concerning his life insurance coverage as a former city employee.
4. By letter dated July 20 and filed July 24, 1995, and supplemented by letter dated July 27 and filed August 1, 1995, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with the requested records.
5. It is found that the records responsive to the complainant’s request are public records within the meaning of §§1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
6. It is found that under cover letters from counsel dated February 22 and 28, 1996, the respondents provided the complainant with copies of the following records:
a) an October 30, 1995 letter from NNL instructing the city on how to implement
the increased policy coverage;
b) a November 8, 1995 letter to NNL from the city benefits manager with an
attached list of covered employees and the amount of their insurance coverage;
c) a request for amendment of group plan dated November 8, 1995, to NNL from
d) letters to respondents’ counsel from the benefits manager of the labor
relations/benefit administration (hereinafter “benefits manager”), dated
February 22 and 27, 1996;
e) a February 23, 1996 letter to the benefits manager from Reliastar Employee
Benefits (formerly NNL, and hereinafter “Reliastar”) confirming the
complainant’s insurance coverage (but acknowledging that no documentation
to that effect has been provided to the city from Reliastar);
f) the complainant’s life insurance beneficiary card, dated May 5, 1992; and
g) a September 6, 1995 letter to the complainant from the benefits manager
confirming the amount of his life insurance coverage.
7. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant claimed that the list of covered employees, and the amount of their coverage, described in paragraph 5b), above, was not an “official” record, and requested that the list be provided to him on stationary with city letterhead.
8. It is concluded that nothing in the FOI Act requires the respondents to create or alter records in response to an FOI request, and that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by failing to provide the list of covered employees on city letterhead.
9. The complainant further alleges that the insurance beneficiary card provided by the respondents, described in paragraph 5f), above, was not responsive to his request , since he had requested an updated card.
10. It is found that in June 1995, the complainant completed and mailed a new beneficiary card to the respondents; however, the respondents claim that the only card they maintain is the 1992 card provided to the complainant.
11. It is found that the respondents do not maintain a copy of the life insurance policy containing the terms and conditions of coverage for former city employees, but they do maintain a contract between the city and Reliastar/NNL that contains the rate of coverage.
12. It is found that the contract identified in paragraph 11, above, is responsive to the complainant’s request for all records related to his insurance coverage and should have been provided to the complainant.
13. It is concluded that the respondents’ failure to provide the complainant with copies of the records described in paragraph 5, above, until eight months after they were requested, and their failure to provide the complainant with a copy of the contract described in paragraph 11, above, 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 respondents shall immediately provide the complainant with a copy of the contract identified in paragraph 11 of the findings, above, free of charge.
2. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the provisions of §1-15(a), G.S.
3. The respondents shall individually conduct a thorough search for the complainant’s 1995 beneficiary card. If such card is located, the complainant shall be provided with a complete copy, free of charge. If the respondents’ efforts fail to yield the 1995 card, then the respondents shall each execute an affidavit indicating the steps taken to locate the card, and provide such affidavits to the complainant and the Commission, within two weeks of the mailing of the notice of final decision in this matter.
4. The Commission finds it incredible that the city does not maintain the actual insurance policy containing the terms and conditions of coverage under the group plan, on which it presumably pays premiums. The Commission encourages the respondents to obtain documentation from its provider stating the exact coverage it has purchased with taxpayer funds for its former employees.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 10, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting 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:
Robert D. Fitzgerald
21 Old Farm Road
Oxford, CT 06478
Benefits Coordinator, Bridgeport Benefits Office on Workers’ Compensation and Director, Bridgeport Benefits and Labor Relations Department
c/o John H. Barton, Esq.
Office of City Attorney
202 State Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission