FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Carl Liano,  

Complainant

 

against

Docket #FIC 1996-310

Jerome Baron, Comptroller, City of Bridgeport; and City of Bridgeport,  

Respondents

March 26, 1997

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 18, 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 Section 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. By letter dated July 19, 1996, the complainant requested access to three sets of public records from the respondents:

a. a copy of the application and certificate of self-insurance issued to the respondent City of Bridgeport as required by the worker’s compensation act and related heart and hypertension legislation ("disability legislation");

b. a copy of any contracts between the respondent City of Bridgeport and the law firm of Pomeranz, Drayton and Stabnick ("the law firm"), from 1993 to the date of the request, in connection with representing the respondent City of Bridgeport in matters relating to disability legislation;

c. the right to inspect, and receive copies if requested following inspection, of records of all payments from 1993 to the date of the request made by the respondent City of Bridgeport to the law firm as well as records of all other payments for medical and legal services relating to complainant’s claims pursuant to disability legislation.

3. By letter dated August 5, 1996, and filed on August 6, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to comply with or respond to the complainant’s request of July 19, 1996.

4. It is found that, on or about August 19 or 20, 1996, the respondents furnished the complainant with the records described at paragraph 2a, above, and advised the complainant orally that the records described at paragraph 2b, above, did not exist.

5. It is found that, by letter dated August 27, 1996, the respondent confirmed to the complainant in writing that no record existed as described at paragraph 2b, above, and also that on the same date the respondents furnished the complainant with the fee schedule of the law firm and a schedule of payments made to the law firm from April 1994 to April 1996.

6. It is found that the records requested at paragraph 2c, above, were not in the possession of respondents and were in the possession of an independent contractor of the respondent City of Bridgeport, which independent contractor was known as Alexsis. Alexsis furnished the records requested at paragraph 2c, above, to respondents by memorandum dated November 11, 1996, and the respondents advised the complainant that the requested records were available for inspection and copying by letter dated December 4, 1996. The complainant inspected these records and had certain copies made on December 10, 1996.

7. Section 1-19(a), G.S., states in pertinent part:

all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency…shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records….Each such agency shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place….

8. It is found that the respondents failed to provide prompt access to records in their possession that were responsive to the complainant’s request, as identified in paragraph 2a, above, within the meaning of 1-19(a), G.S.

9. It is further found that the respondents failed to keep and maintain the records identified in paragraph 2c, above, in the respondents’ custody at their regular offices or place of business in an accessible place.

10. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S. by failing to provide the complainant with prompt access to the records identified in paragraph 2a, above, and by failing to keep and maintain those records identified in paragraph 2c, above, in their custody at their regular offices or place of business in an accessible place.

11. It is noted that the law firm represented the respondent City of Bridgeport at a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Commission on November 23, 1993, but that no record for a payment to the law firm for such representation was provided to the complainant, though the November 23, 1993 hearing took place during the time period that was the subject of the complainant’s request. Because a relevant record may have been lost or simply never existed, no violation of the Freedom of Information Act has been proven in this connection.

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

1. The respondents shall henceforth strictly comply with the promptness provisions of 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S.

2. The Commission is deeply concerned that the respondents have violated the requirement of 1-19(a), G.S., with respect to failing to keep their public records in their custody and their offices or place of business in an accessible place. The Commission urges the respondents to review their failure to address this statutory requirement and to take the necessary steps to assure compliance as soon as possible.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 26, 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:

Carl Liano
29 Centerview Drive
Shelton, CT 06484

Jerome Baron, Comptroller, City of Bridgeport; and City of Bridgeport
c/o John H. Barton, Esq.
1087 Broad Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604-4260

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1996-310/FD/eal/04041997