FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
John P. Frank, Sr.,  
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-074

Personnel and Labor Relations

Director, City of Norwalk,

 
  Respondent  January 12, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 31, 2004, 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.      It is found that the respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      By letter dated January 10, 2004 the complainant made a request to the respondent for copies of:

 

a.       “the legal document or documents on which [the respondent based her opinion] that Norwalk Police Department retirees over age 65 are not eligible to use City of Norwalk medical insurance as their primary medical insurance but must use Medicare, Part A and Part B, for primary coverage with the City providing secondary coverage; and

 

b.      the names and addresses of all Norwalk Police Department retirees affected by that opinion” [hereinafter “requested records].

 

3.      It is found that by letter dated January 27, 2004, the respondent, through counsel, informed the complainant that the names and addresses requested would not be provided because disclosure would constitute an invasion of the officers’ personal privacy.  The letter did not address the complainant’s request for the legal document or documents described in paragraph 2a, above.

 

4.      It is found that in response to further inquiries by the complainant regarding his insurance coverage, the respondent informed the complainant, in a letter dated November 22, 2002, that her opinion was consistent with the complainant’s medical benefits plan.

 

5.      By letter dated February 5, 2004 to the respondent, the complainant made a request for the medical benefits plan the respondent referred to in her November 22, 2002 letter to him.

 

6.      By letter dated February 12, 2004, the complainant was provided with the names of 45 retired Norwalk police officers.  However, he was not provided with any addresses nor was he provided with a copy of the medical benefits plan. 

 

7.      By letter dated February 12, 2004 and filed on February 17, 2004, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his requests.

 

8.      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 . . . receive a copy of such records in accordance with 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. 

 

9.      Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plan or certified copy of any public record.”

 

10.  It is found that the requested records, including the medical benefits plan, are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

11.  At the hearing on this matter, the complainant limited his complaint to his request for the medical benefits plan and the addresses of the 45 retired Norwalk police officers.

 

12.  With respect to the medical benefits plan, it is found that the complainant is specifically seeking a copy of Group Policy No. 312029.

 

13.  It is found that the respondent does not maintain a copy of that particular group policy.

 

14.  At the hearing on this matter, the parties agreed to make reasonable efforts to contact the appropriate personnel at the Aetna Life Insurance Company and request a copy of Group Policy No. 312029 and that they would provide each other, and this Commission, with a copy of any written response received from Aetna Insurance Company.

 

15.  With respect to the addresses of the 45 retired Norwalk police officers, 1-217(a)(2), G.S., provides that “no public agency may disclose, under the Freedom of Information Act, the residential address of . . . [a] sworn member of a municipal police department or a sworn member of the Division of State Police within the Department of Public Safety . . . .”

 

16.   At the hearing on this matter, the complainant argued that the purpose of 1-217(a)(2), G.S., was to protect police officers and their families from retaliation related to their jobs and that the threat of such retaliation may exist while the officer is still employed, and even for a time thereafter, but not twenty years after.  The complainant argued that the 45 officers are no longer in jeopardy of retaliation and therefore the provision of 1-217(a)(2), G.S., does not apply to them and their addresses should be disclosed.

 

17.   It is found that there is nothing in the clear and unambiguous language of 1-217(a)(2), G.S., to suggest that its application is limited by time. 

 

18.   It is found that the record in this case contains no assurance against retaliation nor does it show the virtual impossibility that there would be no retaliation against the 45 retired police officers or their families if their addresses were disclosed. 

 

19.  It is concluded that 1-217(a)(2), G.S., is applicable to the addresses of the 45 retired Norwalk Police officers.

 

20.   It is also concluded, therefore, that the addresses of the 45 retired Norwalk Police officers may not be disclosed pursuant to 1-217(a)(2), G.S., and further, that the respondent did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., when she denied the complainant’s request for them.

 

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 January 12, 2005.

 

________________________________

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:

 

John P. Frank, Sr.

c/o Chris Vaugh, Esq.

28 Philemon Street

Fairfield, CT 06825

 

Personnel and Labor Relations

Director, City of Norwalk

c/o M. Jeffry Spahr, Esq.

Deputy Corporation Counsel

City Hall

PO Box 798

Norwalk, CT 06856-0798

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-074FD/paj/1/18/2005