FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-586
August 27, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by William Smith, Complainant
against
Director of Personnel, City of Hartford; and City of Hartford, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 21, 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 October 31, 1996, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with copies of any and all complaints and/or grievances filed by employees of the City of Hartford Fire Department ("Fire Department") within the ten years prior to the request pertaining to racial, ethnic, and/or sexual discrimination and/or harassment against any past or present members of the Fire Department ("requested records").

3. By letter dated November 4, 1996, the respondents declined to provide the requested records to the complainant, based upon the provisions of 1-19b(b)(1), G.S.

4. By letter dated November 27, 1996, and filed on December 5, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by declining in the letter dated November 4, 1996 to provide the requested records.

Docket #FIC 1996-586 Page 2

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

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right…to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.

6. Section 1-15(a), G.S., in turn, provides in pertinent part that:

(a)ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly, upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.

7. Section 1-19b(b)(1), G.S., provides in pertinent part that:

Nothing in [the FOI Act} shall be deemed in any manner to…limit the rights of litigants, including parties to administrative proceedings, under the laws of discovery of this state….

8. It is found that the complainant brought litigation in Superior Court, in the nature of a "bill of discovery" (the "initial litigation"), and that a memorandum of decision was issued in this matter on March 14, 1997.

9. It is also found that the complainant has formally notified the respondent City that he intends to commence further litigation against the respondent City (the "future litigation").

10. It is further found that the initial litigation did not seek any of the type of information that would be found in the requested records.

11. It is concluded that the provision of 1-19b(b)(1), G.S., set forth at paragraph 7, above, by its terms applies only to the laws of discovery of this state.

12. It is found that it is unknown in what court the complainant intends to bring the future litigation.

13. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondents have failed to prove that disclosure of the records would limit the rights of litigants under the laws of discovery of the state, as prohibited by 1-19b(b)(1), G.S.

Docket # FIC 1996-586 Page 3

14. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S., when they failed to provide the complainant with a copy of the requested records.

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 a copy of the requested records.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 27, 1997.

__________________________
Dolores E. Tarnowski
Clerk of the Commission

Docket #FIC 1996-586 Page 4

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:
William Smith
c/o Paul H. Gamache, Esq.
McEleney & McGrail
The McKone Building
363 Main Street
Hartford, CT. 06106

Director of Personnel, City of Hartford; and City of Hartford
c/o Ivan A. Ramos, Esq.
Special Counsel
Office of Corporation Counsel
550 Main Street
Hartford, CT. 06103

______________________
Dolores E. Tarnowski
Clerk of the Commission
FIC1996-586/mes/09041997