FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Robert D. Fitzgerald,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997-218

Benefits Manager, Labor Relations and Benefits Administration, City of Bridgeport,

 

 

Respondents

March 11, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 31, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S., ( 1-18a(a), G.S., prior to Oct. 1, 1997).

        2. It is found that by letters dated June 18, 1997 and July 2, 1997, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with copies of certain City of Bridgeport ("city") employee group life insurance coverage records, pertaining to the city’s change in insurance carriers from Reliastar Insurance Company to Standard Insurance Company ("Standard"). Specifically, the complainant requested the following, hereinafter ("requested records"):

a. the policy number;

b. the present amount of coverage;

c. certified letter or certificate from Standard indicating that the complainant is now insured through Standard;

d. the new policy and contract;

e. employee handbook;

f. the new agent’s name, address and phone number in Connecticut; and

g. name of contact person at Standard in Oregon.

The complainant also asked the respondent to answer questions about why he was not informed of the change in insurance carriers and why the city has used so many insurance companies. Such questions, the respondent is not required to answer under the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act. The complainant has a right under the FOI Act to request inspection and/or copying of public records, and the respondent has an obligation, upon the receipt of any such request, to permit the inspection and/or copying of such public records, promptly.

        3. It is found that by letter dated June 26, 1997 the respondent acknowledged receipt of the complainant’s June 18, 1997 request and informed the complainant that prepayment of $11.50 was required for a copy of the policy and contract, and that the employee handbook had not yet been received, but would, upon receipt, be provided to the complainant without charge.

        4. It is also found that the respondent’s June 26, 1997 response did not address the complainant’s request as described in paragraph 2a, 2b, 2c, 2f and 2g.

        5. It is found that upon receipt of the respondent’s June 26, 1997 letter, the complainant, by letter dated July 3, 1997, forwarded to the respondent a check in the amount of $11.50 and reminded the respondent that he was still trying to obtain the records described in paragraph 2a, 2b, 2c, 2f and 2g, above.

        6. Having failed to receive the requested records, the complainant, by letter dated July 17, 1997 and filed with the Commission on July 18, 1997, alleged that the respondent violated the FOI Act by denying him copies of the requested records. The complainant indicated in his complaint that he believed he should not have to pay a fee of $11.50 to obtain a copy of the policy and contract.

        7. It is found that the respondent maintains records responsive to the complainant’s request and that such records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(5), G.S., (1-18a(d), G.S., prior to Oct. 1, 1997) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        8. It is found that the respondent provided the complainant with all of the requested records on July 12 and July 28, 1997. It is also found that the respondent returned the complainant’s check in the amount of $11.50, indicating that payment was no longer required for a copy of the policy and contract because Standard was providing copies of such policy and contract to employees in lieu of employee handbooks.

        9. With respect to the request described in paragraph 2a, it is found that the respondent maintained a record of such number at the time he sent the complainant the June 26, 1997 response, described in paragraphs 3 and 4, above.

        10. With respect to the request described in paragraph 2b, it is found that the respondent did not maintain a record containing such information at the time of the complainant’s June 18, 1997 request, however, the respondent was aware of the amount of the insurance coverage.

        11. With respect to the requests described in paragraph 2c and 2d, it is found that the respondent does not maintain a record other than the "group life" certificate, which is a part of the Standard contract, provided to the complainant by the respondent’s staff on July 12, 1997 and again by the respondent by letter dated July 28, 1997. It is found that the respondent received such "group life" certificate and contract on or about July 12, 1997.

        12. With respect to the request described in paragraph 2e, it is found that no handbook exists.

        13. With respect to the requests, described in paragraph 2f and 2g, it is found that the respondent does not maintain a record with such information, however, the respondent provided the complainant with such information in his July 28, 1997 letter described in paragraph 8, above.

        14. With respect to the request described in paragraph 2a, above, it is concluded that the respondent failed to provide the complainant with a copy of the policy number promptly, within the meaning of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., and therefore he violated such provisions.

        15. With respect to the requests described in paragraph 2b, 2c and 2d, above, it is concluded that the respondent’s staff promptly provided the complainant with a copy of the policy and contract on July 12, 1997, and therefore the respondent did not violate 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        16. With respect to the records described in paragraph 2e, 2f and 2g, above, it is concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        17. With respect to the complainant’s claim that he should not have to pay for a copy of the policy and contract, 1-15(a), G.S., permits the respondent to charge the complainant up to fifty cents per page for a copy of public records.

        18. Section 1-15(c), G.S., further permits the respondent to require the prepayment of copying fees if such fees are estimated to be ten dollars or more.

        19. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-15, G.S., when he initially requested that the complainant prepay a fee of $11.50 for a copy of the policy and contract.

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

        1. With respect to the request described in paragraph 2a, henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the promptness provision of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 11, 1998.

_________________________
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:
Robert D. Fitzgerald
21 Old Farms Road
Oxford, CT 06478

Benefits Manager, Labor Relations and Benefits Administration, City of Bridgeport
c/o Atty. John H. Barton
Office of City Attorney
1087 Broad Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-218/FD/tcg/03111998