FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1997-089
October 22, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Steven Edelman, Complainant
against
Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Mental Retardation; and State of Connecticut, Department of Mental Retardation, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 8, 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 March 4, 1997, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with records detailing the location, the name of the supervisor, and the name of every retarded person residing therein, for each group home for mentally retarded persons in the Town of Windham, as of March 15, 1994.

3. By letter dated March 10, 1997, the respondents declined to provide any of the information requested.

4. By letter dated March 12, 1997, and filed on March 14, 1997, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by not providing records detailing the location, the name of the supervisor, and the name of every retarded person residing therein, for each group home for mentally retarded persons in the Town of Windham, as of March 15, 1994.

5. It is found that by letter dated August 1, 1997 the respondents forwarded records that were created for the complainant which provided information concerning the location and the names of supervisors of every group home for mentally retarded persons in the Town of Windham, as of March 15, 1994. However, the respondents’ August 1, 1997 letter also reaffirmed their March 10, 1997 refusal to provide records indicating the names of every retarded person residing at such group homes as of March 15, 1994 ("requested records").

6. The respondents claim that the requested records are exempt from public disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S., and 17a-238(b), G.S., by operation of 1-19(a), G.S.

7. Section 1-19(b)(2), G.S., provides that a public agency need not disclose "personnel or medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy".

8. In Perkins v. Freedom of Information Commission, 228 Conn. 158, 175 (1993), the Supreme Court set forth the test for the exemption contained in 1-19(b)(2), G.S. The claimant must first establish that the files in question are personnel, medical or similar files. Second, the claimant must show that disclosure of the records would constitute an invasion of personal privacy. In determining whether disclosure would constitute an invasion of personal privacy, the claimant must establish both of two elements: first, that the information sought does not pertain to legitimate matters of public concern, and second, that such information is highly offensive to a reasonable person.

9. It is found that the requested records are "similar files" to medical files as these terms are utilized at 1-19(b)(2), G.S., because the mere disclosure of the requested names would disclose the medical information that a person was mentally retarded.

10. It is also found that the identity of persons living in group homes for the mentally retarded does not pertain to legitimate matters of public concern.

11. Finally, it is found that disclosure of the information contained in the requested records would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.

12. Consequently, it is concluded that the requested records are exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(2), G.S. and are not subject to mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-19(a), G.S.

13. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with 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 complaint is hereby dismissed.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 22, 1997.

_________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
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:
Steven Edelman
Frog Pond
Windham Center, CT 06280

Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Mental Retardation; and State of Connecticut, Department of Mental Retardation
c/o Laurie A. Deane, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
55 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06141-0120

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-089/FD/tcg/10221997