FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Elizabeth Roman and Louis Roman,
  Complainants  
  against Docket #FIC 2003-400

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Public Health; and

State of Connecticut, Department

of Public Health,

 
  Respondents  July 28, 2004
       

          

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 26, 2004, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.   At such time, Louis Roman requested and was granted party status, with the consent of the respondents and the complainant Elizabeth Roman.   Evidence submitted by the complainants post hearing was not considered herein.

 

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.

 

2.  It is found that, by letter dated October 25, 2003, the complainants requested the following records from the respondents, concerning complaints filed by the complainants with the respondents against The Stonington Institute Dual Diagnosis Drug Treatment Program and the Alliance Treatment Center:

 

“(1) a detailed and precise copy of the report which your department has prepared regarding both the Alliance Treatment Center in Avon Connecticut and the Stonington Institute in Groton Connecticut.

 

(2) a copy of the Stonington Institute’s License application with your agency, (up to date).

 

(3) a copy of the Alliance Treatment Center’s License application with your agency, (up to date).

 

(4) copies of any contracts that the Alliance Treatment Center and the Stonington Institute have with your agency.

 

(5) copies of any leases or contracts that the Stonington Institute may have with the Connecticut Hospital Management Corp. and Property Resource Management a partnership and affiliate which is owned by Michael Angelides and Robert Fox.

 

(6) copies of any leases between clients of the Stonington Institute’s Dual Diagnostic Psychiatric Drug Treatment Program, and more specifically Elizabeth Roman for renting space at 31 Ninth Street, Norwich, CT.

 

(7) Resumes of Dr. Michael Hayes, Robert Tilton, and all staff and House Managers of the Stonington Institute’s Dual Diagnostic Psychiatric Drug Treatment Program.

 

(8) copies of any background and police checks of all management, clinical and support staff of the Dual Diagnostic Program. Tax returns and financial statements for the Stonington Institute for 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

 

(9) copies of any accidents reports, suicides or deaths for any clients or patients under the care of the Stonington Institute and the Alliance Treatment Center.

 

(10) any information related to the number of people that have repeated the program, how many people have completed the program and how many have returned for a second, third, fourth, fifth time, or returned from other programs, in effect people that are constantly in rehab programs, etc.

 

(11) a copy of the incorporation papers naming the directors of the Alliance Treatment Center.”

 

            3.  Having failed to receive the requested records, by e-mail dated November 10, 2003, and filed with the Commission on November 12, 2003, the complainant Elizabeth Roman alleged that the respondents had violated the Freedom of Information Act by not providing copies of the requested records. 

 

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

 

“[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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.” 

 

5.  Section 1-212, G.S., provides in relevant part:  “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record…” 

 

6.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents presented testimony that an acknowledgement letter was sent to the complainant Elizabeth Roman within a week of their receipt of the letter described in paragraph 2, above, although such acknowledgement letter could not be produced for the hearing in this matter.  Such testimony was credible and was not disputed by the complainants.  Accordingly, it is found that the respondents acknowledged receipt of the request letter described in paragraph 2, above, within one week of its receipt.  It is also found that the respondents thereupon conducted a thorough and lengthy search for any and all requested records.

 

7.  It is found that the respondents do not keep on file or maintain records responsive to paragraphs 2(4), 2(5), 2(6), 2(7), 2(9), and 2(10), above.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by not providing copies of such records to the complainants.

 

8.  It is found that, by letter dated December 12, 2003, the respondents provided the complainant Elizabeth Roman with records responsive to the requests described in paragraphs 2(1), 2(2), 2(3), 2(8), and 2(11), above, redacting “patient records,” as more fully described in paragraph 9, below.  It is further found that the respondents notified the complainant Elizabeth Roman that such redacted portions would be provided upon receipt of an appropriate release.  

 

            9.  The respondents contend that the Code of Federal Regulations, specifically, 42 C.F.R. Part 2, exempt the redacted portions of the requested records from mandatory disclosure.  42 C.F.R. 2.13, provides in relevant part:

 

“..patient records…may be disclosed or used only as permitted by these regulations and may not be otherwise disclosed or used in any civil, criminal administrative, or legislative proceedings conducted by any Federal, State, or local authority…” 

 

10.  42 C.F.R. 2.31-2.33 provide that, with written consent in specific compliance with such regulation, disclosure of “patient records” may be made to patients. 

 

11.  It is found that the redacted portions of the requested records, described in paragraph 8, above, are “patient records” within the meaning of 42 C.F.R. 2.13. 

 

12.  It is concluded that 42 C.F.R. 2.13 is a federal law that exempts from mandatory disclosure the redacted portions of the requested records, within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.   Accordingly, it is also concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act when they redacted such portions prior to releasing the requested records to the complainants.

 

13.  It is found that the complainants did not respond to the respondents’ December 12, 2003 offer to provide the redacted portions to them, upon receipt of the release required by federal regulation as described in paragraph 10, above.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents again offered such accommodation to the complainants.

 

14.  It is found that, prior to, during, and after, the hearing in this matter, the complainants attempted to introduce evidence regarding the scope of the respondents’ investigations of the Stonington Institute and the Alliance Treatment Center.  However, as the hearing officer informed the complainants prior to and during the hearing, the Commission’s jurisdiction in this matter is limited to a determination as to the public records status of specified requested records; and the Commission has no authority to review or opine on the scope of any investigation of the respondents, the manner in which any investigation is conducted, or the findings or conclusion of any such investigation. 

 

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 July 28, 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:

 

Elizabeth Roman and Louis Roman

665 Cleveland Avenue

Bridgeport, CT  06605

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Public Health; and State of

Connecticut, Department of Public Health

c/o Kerry A. Colson, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

55 Elm Street, PO Box 120

Hartford, CT  06106

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2003-400/FD/abg/08/03/2004