FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-487
May 28, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Robert D. Fitzgerald, Complainant
against
Benefits Manager, Office of Workers’ Compensation, City of Bridgeport, Respondent

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 6, 1997, at which time the complainant and respondent appeared, 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 letters to the respondent dated April 22, 1996 and June 25, 1996, the complainant asked the respondent to: a) identify each of the payment codes appearing on his heart and hypertension worker’s compensation checks ("checks"); and b) explain why the injury date or date of occurrence indicated on those same checks was changed from November 9, 1990 to August 13, 1979.

3. It is found that by letter to the complainant dated July 31, 1996, the respondent acknowledged the complainant’s request for information, advised him that the city was in the process of changing the administrator of its workers’ compensation plan ("administrator"), and asked that the complainant review the payment coding on the new administrator’s checks and contact him with any questions.

4. It is found that by letters to the respondent dated August 13, 1996 and August 18, 1996, the complainant again asked the respondent to explain the payment coding on his checks, and to give the reason for the change of the injury date on said checks.

5. By letter of complaint dated August 22, 1996 and filed with the Commission on August 26, 1996, the complainant appealed the respondent’s failure to respond to, or comply with his requests for information as described in paragraphs 2 and 4 of the findings, above.

6. It is found that by letter to the complainant dated November 14, 1996, the respondent advised the complainant that although the city’s former administrator was uncooperative in supplying the payment code information, the city’s new administrator provided all of the requested information with the exception of one payment code that it could not reconstruct, and that the change in the date of injury resulted from a data entry error that was corrected.

7. The respondent contends that the complainant’s requests were: a) not requests to inspect or copy records; b) that he did not have the requested payment coding information; and c) that he did all that he could to assist the complainant by contacting the city’s workers compensation administrators to obtain the requested coding information.

8. In relevant part, 1-19(a), G.S., provides that:

… all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law … 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 in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.

9. In relevant part, 1-15(a), G.S., provides that "any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.

10. It is found that the complainant’s requests for the payment coding information and reasons for the change of injury date did not constitute requests to inspect or obtain copies of public records within the meaning of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.`

11. It is concluded that Connecticut’s Freedom Of Information ("FOI") Act does not require public agencies to answer questions.

12. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act under the facts of this case.

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 May 28, 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:

Robert D. Fitzgerald
21 Old Farm Road
Oxford, CT 06478

Benefits Manager, Office of Workers’ Compensation, City of Bridgeport
c/o John Barton, Esq.
Office of the City Attorney
1087 Broad Street, 3rd Floor
Bridgeport, CT 06604

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-487/FD/eal/06061997