OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Robert H. Schacht,
Docket #FIC 2000-666
and Water Pollution
June 27, 2001
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested
case on January 19, 2001, 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 §1-200(1), G.S.
2. It is found that sometime prior to November 20, 2000, the complainant requested from the respondent copies of “all invoices from Halloran & Sage to the City [of New London] from January 1, 1998 to the present date” and that the complainant received redacted copies of such invoices.
3. By letter dated November 20, 2000 to the respondent, the complainant requested:
a. “copies of all invoices from Halloran & Sage [to the City of New London] in unredacted [sic] form from January 1, 1998 to the present date (hereinafter “the invoices”);” and
b. “a copy of the entire first Interlocal Agreement between New London and Waterford for water supply and services.”
4. Under cover letter dated December 1, 2000, the respondent provided the complainant with a copy of the requested agreement and denied the complainant’s request for copies of the invoices without redactions. The respondent also provided a copy of a Freedom of Information Commission decision and stated in its response letter that the invoices were exempt from disclosure because of attorney-client privilege and strategies concerning litigation.
5. By letter dated December 14, 2000 and filed on December 19, 2000, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request for the invoices.
6. Section 1-210(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, 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 receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212. Any agency rule or regulation, or part thereof, that conflicts with the provisions of this subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights granted by this subsection shall be void.
Section 1-212(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 . . . .”
It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning
of §1-210(a), G.S.
At the hearing on this matter, the
respondent maintained that the invoices are exempt from disclosure pursuant to
§§1-210(b)(4) and (10), G.S., and submitted the invoices to the Commission
for in-camera inspection, which records have been identified as in-camera
record #s 2000-666-1 through 2000-666-058.
Section 1-210(b)(4), G.S., provides in relevant part that
nothing in the FOI Act shall require the disclosure of:
records 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 . . . .
G.S., in relevant part permits the nondisclosure of “…communications
privileged by the attorney-client relationship.”
With respect to the respondent’s
claim that the redacted portions of the requested records are exempt from
disclosure pursuant to §1-210(b)(4), G.S., it is found that, at the time of
the complainant’s request and the hearing on this matter, the respondent was
a party to four separate lawsuits and that such lawsuits constitute “pending
litigation” within the meaning of §1-210(b)(4), G.S.
It is also found, after careful review of the in-camera records, that
the redacted portions of such records constitute records pertaining to “strategy”
and “negotiations” with respect to
the pending litigation within the meaning of §1-210(b)(4), G.S.
It is concluded therefore that
the redacted portions of the in-camera records are permissibly exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-210(b)(4), G.S.
It is further concluded that the
respondent did not violate the provisions of §§1-210(a) or 1-212(a), G.S.,
by denying the complainant’s request for copies of the invoices without
It is found that because the redacted
portions of the requested records are permissibly exempt from disclosure
pursuant to §1-210(b)(4), G.S., the Commission need not consider the
respondent’s claims with respect to §1-210(b)(10), G.S.
The following order
by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning
the above-captioned complaint.
1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 27, 2001.
Petrea A. Jones
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 H. Schacht
c/o Richard S. Cody, Esq.
21 East Main Street, PO Box 425
Mystic, CT 06355
Water and Water Pollution
Control Authority, City of New London
c/o Jeffrey T. Londregan, Esq.
Conway & Londregan, PC
38 Huntington Street, PO Box 135
New London, CT 06320
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission