FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Thedress Campbell,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-208
City Treasurer, City of Hartford;
and City of Hartford,
Respondents April 14, 1999

         The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 13, 1998, and February 3, 1999, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. For purposes of such hearing, this case was consolidated with Docket #FIC1998-252; Thedress Campbell v. Treasurer, City of Hartford. The following organizations and persons requested and were granted party status: Anthony J. Battistone; Wilfredo Caro; Eric T. Gaddy; Hartford Firefighters Union Local 760; Hartford Police Union; Anderson Hawkins; Robert McCloud; Brian Pertillar; John T. Pitkin; Edward Pospisil; Larry Reynolds, President Hartford Police Union; and Matthew Rivera.

        After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

        1. The respondent treasurer and the respondent city (hereinafter "the respondents") are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S.

        2. By letter dated July 15, 1998, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with copies of applications for withdrawal of City of Hartford Deferred Compensation Plan funds based on ‘unforeseeable emergency’ or any other financial hardship request beginning December 1983 and ending July 1998" (hereinafter "the applications").

        3. By letter dated and filed July 22, 1998, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (hereinafter "FOI") Act by failing to supply him with the applications.

        4. By letter dated July 23, 1998, the respondents acknowledged receipt of the request described in paragraph 2, above, and informed the complainant that they were consulting corporation counsel with respect to such request.

        5. By letter dated August 20, 1998, the respondents informed the complainant that release of the applications could constitute an invasion of the applicants’ privacy and that the respondents would notify such applicants by letter of the request described in paragraph 2, above, pursuant to 1-20a, G.S.

        6. By letter dated October 16, 1998, the respondents informed the complainant they had determined that posting the 1-20a, G.S., notification letters described in paragraph 5, above, would result in invasions of privacy and that, therefore, they would not notify applicants as originally planned.

        7. It is found that the applications are public records within the meaning of 1-19(a), G.S.

        8. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that "[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency…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…."

        9. The respondents submitted the applications to the Commission for in-camera inspection, which records have been identified as in-camera document #s: 1998-208-1 through 1998-208-43.

        10. It is found that the applications, in-camera document #s: 1998-208-1 through 1998-208-43, consist of withdrawal forms and supporting attachments, including personal financial information and, in some instances, medical information, as well as, with the exception of in-camera document #s: 1998-208-10, 1998-208-24, 1998-208-25, and 1998-208-26, a statement of approval or denial (hereinafter "the dispositions").

        11. The respondents contend that the applications are exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S., which in relevant part provides for the nondisclosure of "personnel or medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy."

        12. The Supreme Court set forth the test for the 1-19(b)(2), G.S., exemption in Perkins v. Freedom of Information Commission, 228 Conn. 158, 175 (1993). Specifically, 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.

        13. It is found that the applications are "similar" files within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

        14. At the February 3, 1999, hearing in this matter, the complainant modified his request to seek only the names of the applicants and the dispositions.

        15. Accordingly, it is concluded that the complaint described in paragraph 3, above, is limited to the issue of disclosure of the names of 43 applicants and the dispositions.

        16. It is found that applications can be made to the respondents for emergency withdrawal for a variety of reasons constituting unforeseen and catastrophic emergency, including medical needs, personal financial issues, or natural disasters.

        17. It is found that release of the names, without the supporting documentation described in paragraph 10, above, and the accompanying dispositions which merely state approval or denial of request, would not be highly offensive to a reasonable person. It is further found that the names and dispositions pertain to legitimate matters of public concern.

        18. Accordingly, it is concluded that the names and dispositions are not exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(2), G.S., and that they are subject to mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-19(a), G.S.

        19. Section 1-20a(b), G.S., in relevant part states:

[w]henever a public agency receives a request to inspect or copy records contained in any of its employees' personnel or medical files and similar files and the agency reasonably believes that the disclosure of such records would legally constitute an invasion of privacy, the agency shall immediately notify in writing…each employee concerned…. Nothing herein shall require an agency to withhold from disclosure the contents of personnel or medical files and similar files when it does not reasonably believe that such disclosure would legally constitute an invasion of personal privacy.

[Emphasis added].

        20. As a result of the finding in paragraph 6, above, and the conclusions in paragraph 18, above, it is concluded that the respondents violated the provisions of 1-19(a), G.S., and 1-20a, G.S.

        21. On brief, the respondents also contend that 1-19(b)(5), 1-19(b)(10), and 1-19b(b)(1),G.S., exempt the requested records.

        22. However, the respondents failed to provide any evidence, and therefore failed to prove, the applicability of the exemptions described in paragraph 21, above.

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

        1. The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with copies of the names and dispositions.

        2. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with requirements of the FOI Act.

 

         Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 14, 1999.

 

 

 

_________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

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:

 

Thedress Campbell
265 Poquonock Avenue
Windsor, CT 06095
City Treasurer,
City of Hartford;
and City of Hartford
c/o Atty. John P. Shea, Jr.
Assistant Corporation Counsel
550 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
and c/o Atty. Ivan A. Ramos
Corporation Counsel’s Office
550 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
and
Anthony J. Battistone
Intelligence Unit
50 Jennings Road
Hartford, CT 06120
and
Wilfredo Caro
63 Bates Street
Hartford, CT 06114
and Eric T. Gaddy
97 Ellsworth Drive
Bloomfield, CT 06002
and Hartford Firefighters
Union Local 760
c/o Thomas DiScipio
569 Franklin Avenue
Hartford, CT 06114
and Hartford Police Union
c/o Frank J. Szilagyi, Esq.
555 Franklin Avenue
Hartford, CT 06114
and Anderson Hawkins
Department of Public Works
40 Jennings Road
Hartford, CT 06120
and Robert McCloud
Licenses and Inspections
550 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
and Brian Pertillar
Fire Department
569 Franklin Avenue
Hartford, CT 06114
and John T. Pitkin
100 Old Maids Lane
Glastonbury, CT 06073
and Edward Pospisil
145 Birch Mt. Road
Bolton, CT 06043
and Larry Reynolds, President
Hartford Police Union
40F Weston Street
Hartford, CT 06120
and Matthew Rivera
Hartford Police Department
50 Jennings Road
Hartford, CT 06120
 

 

_________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC1998-208FD/mrb04191999