FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-117
January 8, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by David W. Cummings, Complainant
against
Jesse M. Frankl, Chairman, State of Connecticut, Workers’ Compensation Commission, Respondent

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 6, 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. It is found that by letter dated March 11, 1996, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with:

a. access to inspect the original records of the Workers’ Compensation (hereinafter "WC") commissioners’ monthly meetings, specifically, minutes, hand-written or typed notes, tape recordings, memoranda, pictures and complaints;

b. access to inspect and to copy the attendance sheet of the WC commissioners’ meetings;

c. advance written notice of the WC commissioners’ meetings; and

d. access to any notice and communications regarding the "controlling of the calendar" for WC commissioners.

2. The complainant further indicated in his March 11, 1996 letter that his records request covered the period December 7, 1984 to March 1996; that he was requesting a date, time and location that he would be allowed to inspect the records, as well as the cost of copying the records.

3. Having failed to receive access to the requested records and notice of the meetings, described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, the complainant, by letter dated and filed with the Commission on April 9, 1996, alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act. The complainant requested that the Commission impose a civil penalty upon the respondent.

4. With respect to the complainant’s request described in paragraph 2a of the findings, above, it is found that by letter dated March 22, 1996, the respondent offered to provide the complainant with access to the minutes; informed the complainant that 21 Oak Street, Hartford, Connecticut was the location where such minutes could be inspected; and asked that the complainant contact the respondent’s secretary to make arrangements to inspect the minutes. The respondent further informed the complainant that the copying fee was $.25 per page.

5. It is also found that during May 1996 the respondent provided the complainant with access to some of the requested minutes, however, minutes for the last six months were not provided as they were at an employee’s home.

6. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides that minutes of regular and special meetings must be available for public inspection within seven days of the meeting to which they refer.

7. Section 1-19(a), G.S., further provides that each public agency of the state shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place and, if there is no such office or place of business, the public records pertaining to such agency shall be kept in the office of the Secretary of the State.

8. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with access to inspect those minutes described in paragraph 5 of the findings, above, and by keeping such minutes at an employee’s home.

9. It is also found that the respondent did not respond to the complainant’s request for notes, tape recordings, memoranda, pictures and complaints, described in paragraph 2a of the findings, above.

10. It is further found that the respondent failed to prove that the respondent does not maintain records responsive to the complainant’s request, described in paragraph 9 of the findings, above, and consequently such records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.

11. It is therefore, concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with access to inspect the records described in paragraph 9, of the findings, above.

12. With respect to the complainant’s request described in paragraph 2b of the findings, above, it is found that the respondent does not maintain meeting attendance sheets apart from minutes.

13. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-19(a), G.S., with respect to the requested attendance sheets.

14. With respect to the complainant’s request described in paragraph 2c of the findings, above, the respondent contends that he is a single-member public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S., and therefore he is not required to provide notice of his administrative meetings.

15. Section 1-21c, G.S., provides in relevant part that:

The public agency shall, where practicable, give notice by mail of each regular meeting, and of any special meeting which is called, at least one week prior to the date set for the meeting, to any person who has filed a written request for such notice with such body, except that such body may give such notice as it deems practical of special meetings called less than seven days prior to the date set for the meeting.

16. Section 1-18a(b), G.S., provides in relevant part that a meeting subject to the Freedom of Information Act shall not include "an administrative or staff meeting of a single-member public agency."

17. Section 31-280, G.S., sets forth certain administrative powers of the respondent, authorizing him as the chairman, to act independently of the other WC commissioners.

18. It is concluded that when acting pursuant to the administrative powers set forth in 31-280, G.S., the respondent is a single-member public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

19. Section 31-280(b)(9), G.S., provides in relevant part that the chairman of the WC commission shall "[a]ppoint such supplementary advisory panels as the chairman deems necessary and helpful", and 31-280(b)(10), G.S., provides in relevant part that the chairman of the WC commission shall establish an approved list of practicing physicians, surgeons, podiatrists, optometrists and dentists and standards for the approval and removal of such persons from such list.

20. It is found that the respondent has appointed two advisory panels under 31-280(b)(9), G.S., -- i.e., a legal panel and a medical panel.

21. It is also found that the respondent generally convenes meetings with the advisory panels he has appointed pursuant to 31-280(b)(9), G.S.

22. It is further found that the meetings held by the respondent with the legal and medical advisory panels, appointed pursuant to 31-280(b)(9), G.S., are administrative meetings of a single-member public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S., and therefore not subject to the open meeting provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.

23. It is also found that the respondent meets with the WC board of commissioners, a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S. The respondent contends that such meetings are administrative meetings of a single-member public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

24. It is found that when the WC board of commissioners meet, such meetings are meetings of a multi-member public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S., and subject to the open meeting provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.

25. It is found that the respondent did not provide the complainant with the requested notice of WC commissioners meetings, as described in paragraph 2c of the findings, above.

26. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-21c, G.S., when he failed to provide the complainant with the requested notice of meetings, described in paragraph 2c of the findings, above.

27. It is also concluded, however, that the respondent did not violate 1-21c, G.S., when he did not provide the complainant with notice of the administrative meetings described in paragraph 22 of the findings, above.

28. With respect to the complainant’s request described in paragraph 2d of the findings, above, it is found that the respondent assigns WC commissioners to locations as needed. In this regard, the respondent issues monthly calendars.

29. It is also found that the respondent sometimes generates memoranda in connection with the monthly calendars described in paragraph 28 of the findings, above.

30. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with access to inspect the monthly calendars and memoranda described in paragraphs 28 and 29 of the findings, above.

31. The Commission in its discretion declines to impose a civil penalty in this matter.

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

1. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainant with access to inspect the records described in paragraph 2a of the findings, above, and the monthly calendars and memoranda described in paragraphs 28, 29 and 30 of the findings, above, thus far not provided to him. If such records do not exist, the respondent shall provide the complainant with an affidavit attesting to the fact that such records do not exist and attesting to the steps taken to ascertain whether such records, in fact exist.

2. Henceforth, the respondent shall provide the complainant with notice of WC commissioners meetings in accordance with 1-21c, G.S.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 8, 1997.

__________________________
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:

David W. Cummings
P.O. Box 166
Broad Brook, CT 06016

Chairman, State of Connecticut, Workers’ Compensation Commission and State of Connecticut, Workers’ Compensation Commission
c/o Michael J. Giammatteo, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
P.O. Box 120
55 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06141-0120

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-117/FD/eal/011796