FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
George C. Springer, Jr.,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-080
Corporation Counsel, City of New
Britain; and Office of Corporation
Counsel, City of New Britain,
Respondents August 12, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 27, 1998, at 
which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and 
presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The case caption has been 
corrected to accurately reflect the names of the respondents. 
	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 1-18a(1), G.S. 
	2.   By letter dated March 10, 1998, the complainant requested that the 
respondents provide him with access to a series of records, numbering 1 through 79, 
which the complainant believes are maintained by the respondents and their clients, 
including the New Britain department of parks and recreation, the office of the mayor, the 
office of the city clerk, the common council, and the department of finance.  Such records 
are summarized as follows:
		a.  requests 1-18, 30-33, 38-43, 48, 50, 69-75, 77-79 relate to a parcel of 
real property in New Britain known as the Stanley Street property, including those 
pertaining to: the lease, other agreements, or motions regarding the use of such property; 
assessments of such property, any alterations, modifications, improvements, repairs, made 
to such property; the maintenance of such property; and any payments made concerning 
such property;
		b.  requests 19-29, 34-37, and 44-47, relate to records pertaining to James 
and Judith Amato, who are clients of the complainant, an attorney;  
		c.  requests 52-57 and 58-68 relate to a property in New Britain known as 
the Hungerford Park Property, and any alterations, modifications, or maintenance made on 
or to such property, as well as any payments regarding such property; 
		d.  request 49 relates to appointments made to the parks and recreation 
commission; 
		e.  requests 51 and 57a relate to Michael Hadvabs and payments made to 
him, as well as information relating to his lease with the city of New Britain; and 
		f.  request 76 relates to a separate property on Stanley Street and any 
records pertaining thereto.  
	3.   By letter dated March 13, 1998, the respondents informed the complainant that 
he was already in possession of records responsive to requests 1-3, 6-7, 69-72, 74-75, and 
77-78 and that if he wished copies thereof, such copies would be supplied at the statutory 
fee of fifty cents per page.  The respondents further informed the complainant that the 
remainder of his request was denied, based upon the provisions of 1-19b(b)(1), G.S.   
	4.   By letter dated March 23, 1998 and filed March 24, 1998, the complainant 
appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of 
Information (“FOI”) Act by denying him access to the requested records.  
	5.   It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 
1-19(a), G.S.
	6.   Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state 
statute, all records maintained…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 inspect such records promptly 
during regular office…hours or to receive a copy of such 
records…in accordance with the provisions of section 1-
15….
	7.   Section 1-15(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:  
[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly 
upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.  
The fee for any copy provided in accordance with the [FOI] 
act…by [municipal] public agencies, as defined in section 1-
18a, shall not exceed fifty cents per page….
	8.   At the hearing on this matter, the complainant contended that the response 
described in paragraph 3, above, was deficient in that he had requested access to, not 
copies of, the records at issue, and that therefore the estimate of copying costs was 
inappropriate.  
	9.   It is found that the response described in paragraph 3, above, makes clear that 
the records specified therein were available to the complainant; and it is further found that 
a simple telephone call from the complainant would likely have resolved the underlying 
misunderstanding on the part of the respondents.  
	10.   Therefore, under the facts and circumstances of this case, it is found that the 
respondents substantially complied with the requirements of the FOI Act with respect to 
the records specified in paragraph 3, above.  Accordingly, it is concluded that, with 
respect to the records specified in paragraph 3, above, the respondents did not violate 1-
19(a), G.S., by offering to provide the complainant with copies of, rather than access to, 
such records.   
	11.  The respondents contend that the remaining records at issue are not subject to 
mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-19b(b)(1), G.S., which provides in relevant part that:
[n]othing in the [FOI] Act shall be deemed in any manner 
to…affect the status of judicial records as they existed prior 
to October 1, 1975, nor to limit the rights of litigants, 
including parties to administrative proceedings, under the 
laws of discovery of this state….
	12.  It is found that, at the time of the complainant’s request and at the time of the 
hearing on this matter, the complainant represented clients James and Judith Amato, who 
were engaged in litigation with the City of New Britain, which is the client of the 
respondents.
	13.  It is further found that the Amatos made a discovery request of the city in the 
litigation described in paragraph 12, above, and that such discovery request mirrors the 
FOI request described in paragraph 2, above.  It is further found that the respondents, who 
represented the city in such litigation, produced the records described in paragraph 3, 
above, but objected to production of the remaining records, alternatively based upon the 
grounds that the discovery request was overbroad, that such request sought irrelevant 
documents, and that certain requested documents were protected by the attorney-client 
privilege.  It is further found that such discovery request and parallel objection were 
pending at all times pertinent to this matter before the Commission.   
	14.  The respondents contend that the complainant’s FOI request is an attempt to 
circumvent the rules of discovery and that any order of the Commission to release the 
records at issue would limit the respondents’ rights in the litigation described in paragraph 
12, above. 
	15.  However, 1-19b(b)(1), G.S., does not provide the broad exemption from 
disclosure argued by the respondents.  Chief of Police, Hartford Police Department v. 
Freedom of Information Commission, No. CV96-0561310, Sup. Ct., Judicial District of 
Hartford/New Britain (Aronson, J.) (July 30, 1997).  Rather, such provision acts as a 
screening process for the Commission to determine if disclosure would limit litigants rights 
in discovery.  Id. 
	16.  It is found that the respondents failed to prove that release of the remaining 
requested records to the complainant would limit their discovery rights in the litigation 
described in paragraph 12, above.  It is therefore concluded that 1-19b(b)(1), G.S., does 
not provide a basis to withhold such records and consequently it is concluded that the 
respondents violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with 
access to the records described in paragraph 2, above, excepting those records already 
made available and specified in paragraph 3, above.    
	The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the 
record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
	1.   If they have not already done so, the respondents shall forthwith provide the 
complainant with access to the records described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above.
	2.   Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-
19(a), G.S.




	Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular 
meeting of August 12, 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:
George C. Springer
99 West Main Street, Suite 301
New Britain, CT 06051
Corporation Counsel, City of New Britain; and Office of Corporation Counsel, City of 
New Britain
c/o Atty. Mary C. Pokorski
Assistant City Attorney
City of New Britain
27 West Main Street
New Britain, CT 06051
__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission




FIC1998-080/FD/tcg/08181998