FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-319
February 13, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by STUART GROTEN, Complainant
against
TOWN MANAGER, TOWN OF PLAINVILLE; and ASSESSOR, TOWN OF PLAINVILLE, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 9, 1997, 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. It is found that on July 29, 1996 the complainant sought access from the respondent assessor to inspect three "field cards" for the purpose of making copies of them on his own portable copy machine.

3. It is found that the respondent assessor denied the complainant’s request to make such copies, although she made the "field cards" available for inspection and provided a copying machine for the complainant to make copies at fifty cents per page.

4. By letter dated August 2, 1996, and filed with the Commission on August 5, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying the complainant the right to make copies of the "field cards" on the complainant’s portable copy machine.

5. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

…every person shall have the right to inspect … [public] 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.

6. 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.

7. It is found that public agency custodians of public records have the duty to physically preserve and protect such records and may take reasonable precautions in fulfillment of this duty.

8. It is concluded that although nothing in the FOI Act prohibits a public agency from permitting a requester to use his own copier to make copies of public records, nothing in the FOI Act mandates permitting the inspection of public records so that a requester can make copies of such records on his own copying machine.

9. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate any provisions of the FOI Act.

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

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 13, 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:

Stuart Groten
Stuart Lane Company, LLC
PO Box 132
Rocky Hill, CT 06067

Town Manager, Town of Plainville; and Assessor, Town of Plainville
c/o Robert A. Michalik, Esq.
Eisenberg, Anderson, Michalik & Lynch
PO Box 2950
New Britain, CT 06050-2950

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1996-319/FD/eal/02211997