FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Jonathan Lavelle and Theresa Lavelle,
  Complainants  
  against Docket #FIC 2003-404

First Selectman,

Town of Bridgewater

 
  Respondent May 12, 2004
       

     

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 25, 2004, at which time the complainants 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, G.S.

 

2.      By letter dated November 1, 2003, the complainants made a request to the respondent for access to inspect “the formal engineering development plans” for Eadow Brook Road and listed certain records that would be responsive to their request.

 

3.      By letter dated November 6, 2003, the respondent informed the complainants that their November 1, 2003 request letter had been received.  The respondent also informed the complainants that once the responsive records were compiled, an appointment would be arranged for the complainants to inspect them.

 

4.      By letter dated and filed on November 14, 2003, the complainants appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent failed to promptly comply with their November 1, 2003 records request.

 

5.      Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

Except 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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours . . . .

 

6.      It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

7.      It is found that by letter dated November 21, 2003, the respondent provided the complainants with a copy of the only record responsive to their November 1, 2003 records request.  There are no other responsive records.

 

8.      At the hearing on this matter, the complainants argued that the respondent failed to promptly comply with their request.  The complainants claimed that a prior records request to the respondent produced more responsive records in a shorter time period and the respondent contacted the complainants by telephone regarding the status of that request while the records were being compiled.  The complainants argued that the respondent’s conduct with respect to the prior records request set a precedent pursuant to which the respondent should have contacted them regarding the status of their November 1, 2003 request and should have provided the responsive record sooner.

 

9.      It is found that the respondent’s position is a 20 hour a week part-time position.

 

10.  It is found that in conjunction with conducting other town business, the respondent and his aide conducted a thorough search of all records related to Eadow Brook Road maintained by the town and by the town’s engineering consultant.  The respondent searched the town’s records more than once. 

 

11.  It is found that given the extent of the respondent’s search for records responsive to the complainants’ November 1, 2003 request, the shortness of his work week, and the fact that there were only 12 days between the date of the respondent’s letter acknowledging receipt of the complainants’ request and the respondent’s disclosure of the responsive record, the respondent complied “promptly” with the complainants’ request within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

12.  It is also found that while the Commission strongly encourages communication between agencies and requesters of records, there is nothing in the FOI Act that requires an agency to telephone a requester regarding the status of a records request, even if that agency had done so in the past.

 

13.  It is concluded therefore that the respondent did not violate 1-210(a), G.S., as alleged by the complainants. 

 

 

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 May 12, 2004.

 

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

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:

 

Jonathan Lavelle and Theresa Lavelle,

84 Stony Hill Road

Brookfield, CT  06804 

 

First Selectman,

Town of Bridgewater

c/o Fred L. Baker, Esq.

24 Delay Street

Danbury, CT  06810-6698

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2003-404/FD/mes/05/13/2004