FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Michele Barnes,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-353
First Selectman, Town of Southbury,  
  Respondent  January 12, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 12, 2004, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  By letter of complaint dated August 2, 2004, and filed August 4, 2004, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying her copies of certain veterinarian medical records, more fully described in paragraph 3, below.

 

3.  It is found that by letter dated July 14, 2004, the complainant requested that the respondent provide her with “copies of medical records documenting all visits that both Roxie & Simon, Inpound #s 62 & 70, made to Southbury Veterinary Hospital & any other hospital, while under the care of the Town of Southbury” (hereinafter “requested records”).

 

4.  It is found that during a telephone conversation on July 26, 2004, the respondent denied the complainant’s request, and again in a letter dated August 4, 2004. On both occasions the respondent told the complainant that the town of Southbury (“town”) did not have the medical records sought, and that although the veterinarian concerned allowed the respondent to view the records as a professional courtesy because the respondent was looking into the “appropriateness of staff actions”, the veterinarian made it clear that the records in question are his records.

 

5.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:

 

“Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.  [Emphasis added].

 

6.  It is found that the requested records were compiled by Dr. Ross, a veterinarian who provides his services to the town.  Such services are provided to the town based on an arrangement between the town and Dr. Ross.  Dr. Ross provides services as needed, and is available almost on a twenty-four hour, and emergency, basis to deal with situations which may occur such as when deer, dogs or other animals are injured at night.  Dr. Ross’ services are essential to the town in that such services aid in keeping the roads and highways clear and safe.  Dr. Ross is compensated by the town for such services.

 

7.  It is found that the requested records concern two dogs who were treated by Dr. Ross after apparently being picked up (one in February and the other in March, 2004), and who were subsequently euthanized in June 2004, according to the records of the town’s Animal Control Officer. 

 

8.  The respondent’s position is that the requested records are the medical records of a professional and that the town does not have, and never had the records.

 

9.  It is concluded however, that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5), G.S., because they are “recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business”, which were “received” and “used” by the respondent in his review of staff actions.

 

10.  It is also concluded that the respondent failed to prove that the requested records are specifically exempt from disclosure pursuant to any federal law or state statute.

 

11.  It is therefore further concluded that the respondent violated the complainant’s right as alleged in the complaint.

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

1.  Forthwith, the respondent shall obtain a copy of the requested records and provide same to the complainant.

 

 

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:

 

Michele Barnes

107 Lum Lot Road

Southbury, CT 06488-1960

 

First Selectman, Town of Southbury

c/o Lawrence Hager, Esq.

Plaza Professional Bldg., Suite 201

Southbury, CT 06488

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-353FD/paj/1/19/2005