FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Andrew Nargi,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1999-150
Office of Corporation Counsel, City of
Torrington; and City of Torrington,
Respondents July 14, 1999

         The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 17, 1999, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, 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), (formerly 1-18a(a)), G.S.

        2. By letter dated February 24, 1999, the complainant requested access to the "Agreement between the City of Torrington and Police Chief Sabo", which agreement is referenced in the November 24, 1997 minutes of the City Council (the "agreement").

        3. By letter dated March 1, 1999, the respondents declined to give the complainant access to the agreement, citing the confidentiality clause in the agreement and claiming that disclosure would result in an invasion of personal privacy.

        4. By letter filed with the Commission on March 25, 1999, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying his request of February 24, 1999.

        5. Section 1-210(b)(2), (formerly 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".

        6. Section 1-214(b), (formerly 1-20a(b)), and 1-214(c), (formerly 1-20a(c)), G.S., establish a procedure for an objection to disclosure and a decision by the Commission when an agency reasonably believes that the disclosure of records would legally constitute an invasion of privacy.

        7. It is found that the confidentiality provision of the agreement with a former employee, Mr. Sabo, constituted the functional equivalent of an objection pursuant to 1-214(c), (formerly 1-20a(c)), G.S.

        8. It is found that the agreement was the type of record that would normally be maintained in the personnel file of Mr. Sabo, and it is concluded that the agreement is a personnel or medical file or similar file for purposes of 1-214(b), (formerly 1-20a(b)), G.S.

        9. It is concluded that, in determining whether "the agency reasonably believes that disclosure of such records would legally constitute an invasion of privacy", pursuant to 1-214(b), (formerly 1-20a(b)), G.S., and also whether the disclosure of such records would legally constitute an "invasion of privacy", pursuant to 1-210(b)(2), (formerly 1-19(b)(2)), G.S., the appropriate test for an invasion of privacy is set forth in Perkins v. Freedom of Information Commission, 228 Conn. 158 (1993). The test requires that two elements be met: 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. Perkins at 175.

        10. At the May 17, 1998 hearing in this matter, the respondents submitted the agreement, with an index for an in camera inspection, which the Commission has now performed.

        11. It is found that the agreement directly pertains to legitimate matters of public concern, in that it details the settlement concerning retirement compensation of a former public official, paid for at public expense and resulting from the longtime performance of public duties.

        12. It is also found that the agreement contains information pertaining to the amount of the settlement in the nature of retirement compensation Mr. Sabo has received, which information could reasonably be considered highly offensive to a reasonable person.

        13. In view of the information contained in the agreement pertaining to the amount of the settlement in the nature of retirement compensation, it is concluded that the respondents could reasonably have believed that disclosure of the agreement would legally constitute an invasion of privacy for purposes of 1-214(b), (formerly 1-20a(b)), G.S.

        14. Therefore, it is concluded that the respondents’ failure to provide the complainant with prompt access to the agreement did not violate the promptness provisions of 1-210(a), (formerly 1-19(a)), G.S.

 

        15. However, applying the Perkins test which requires a finding as to each of its two requirements in order to hold an invasion of privacy, it is concluded, in light of the finding concerning legitimate matters of public concern at paragraph 11, above, that disclosure of the agreement would not cause "an invasion of personal privacy" with reference to Mr. Sabo, as the term is utilized in 1-210(b)(2), (formerly 1-19(b)(2)), G.S.

        16. Therefore, it is concluded that the respondents’ failure to provide the complainants with prompt access to the agreement constituted the denial of a right conferred by 1-210(a), (formerly 1-19(a)), G.S.

 

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

        1. The respondents shall provide the complainant with a copy of the agreement forthwith.

  

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of

July 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:

 

Andrew Nargi
217 Weed Street
Torrington, CT 06790
Office of Corporation Counsel,
City of Torrington; and City of
Torrington
c/o Atty. Albert G. Vasko
Corporation Counsel
140 Main Street
Torrington, CT 06790-5245
 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1999-150D/mrb/07191999