FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Sandra Tavernier,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-343
Superintendent of Sanitation, Water
Pollution Control Authority, Town of
Enfield; Director, Public Works,
Town of Enfield; and Town of Enfield,
Respondents April 28, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 26, 1999 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 1-200(1), G.S., (formerly 1-18a(1), G.S.).

        2. It is found that on or about May 6, 1998 the complainant’s Brewster Road property flooded, following which the complainant submitted a claim for damages to the town of Enfield ("town"). The town’s insurance carrier denied the claim.

        3. It is found that by letter dated October 21, 1998, the complainant requested that the respondent superintendent provide her with a copy of "all work done" on Brewster Road in May, June and July of 1998 ("requested records").

        4. It is found that by letter dated October 22, 1998, the respondent director acknowledged receipt of the request and informed the complainant that because her request deals with a claim against the town such request was being forwarded to the town attorney for guidance as to a response.

        5. Having failed to receive the requested records, the complainant, by letter dated November 3, 1998 and filed with the Commission on November 5, 1998, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act.

        6. It is found that the respondents maintain the requested records and such records are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S., (formerly 1-19(a), G.S.).

        7. It is found that the respondents provided the complainant with some of the requested records on or about December 9, 1998. It is found that such December 9, 1998 access in response to the complainant’s October 21, 1998 request, was not prompt within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S., (formerly 1-19(a), G.S.), and therefore, the respondents violated that promptness provision.

        8. It is also found that the respondents have not turned over certain other records, responsive to the complainant’s request, which they claim contain portions that are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(4), G.S., (formerly 1-19(b)(4), G.S.).

        9. Section 1-210(b)(4), G.S., (formerly 1-19(b)(4), G.S.), permits the nondisclosure of: "[r]ecords pertaining to strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which the public agency is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled."

        10. Following the hearing on this matter, the respondents submitted the records at issue to the Commission for in camera review. The in camera records have been designated FIC 1998-343-A through FIC 1998-343-G.

        11. It is found that at present there is litigation pending in Hartford superior court, which litigation was filed by the complainant against the respondents.

        12. It is also found that the records being claimed exempt, and more fully described in paragraph 13, below, pertain to strategy and negotiations with respect to the pending litigation, described in paragraph 11, above, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(4), G.S., (formerly 1-19(b)(4), G.S.). Consequently, such records are exempt from mandatory disclosure.

        13. It is therefore, concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-210(a), G.S., (formerly 1-19(a), G.S.), when they failed to provide the complainant with in camera records FIC 1998-343-A, lines 9-16; FIC 1998-343-B, lines 8 through 10; FIC 1998-343-C, lines 7 through 14; FIC 1998-343-D; FIC 1998-343-E, lines 6 through 8; FIC 1998-343-F, and FIC 1998-343-G.

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

        1. Forthwith, the respondents shall provide the complainant with the portions of the in camera records which are not exempt from disclosure, specifically, FIC 1998-343-A, lines 1-8; FIC 1998-343-B, lines 1 through 7; FIC 1998-343-C, lines 1 through 6; and FIC 1998-343-E, lines 1 through 5.

        2. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the promptness requirements of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., (formerly 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., respectively).

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 28, 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:

 

Sandra Tavernier
46 Brewster Road
Enfield, CT 06082
Superintendent of Sanitation,
Water Pollution Control
Authority, Town of Enfield;
Director, Public Works, Town
of Enfield; and Town of Enfield
c/o Atty. Maria Stavropoulos
820 Enfield Street
Enfield, CT 06082
and
Atty. Howard A. Steinman
Gordon, Muir & Foley, LLP
Ten Columbus Boulevard
Hartford, CT 06106

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-343FD/mrb05031999