FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Wesley S. Lubee, Jr.,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-340
Housing Authority, Town of Wallingford,  
  Respondent July 13, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 13, 2004, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.   For purposes of hearing, the above-captioned case was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2004-441 Wesley S. Lubee, Jr. v. Housing Authority, Town of Wallingford.

 

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 June 17, 2004 to the respondent, the complainant requested a copy of the initial contract, all contract amendments and all correspondence related to the sale of the Ridgeland Apartments.

 

3.      It is found that counsel for the respondent and the complainant held a number of conversations regarding the complainant’s June 17, 2004 request and after much deliberation the respondent decided to comply with the complainant’s request.

 

4.      It is found however that on June 28, 2004 the respondent received service of process in connection with a legal action brought by the former tenants of the Ridgeland Apartments who were vacated from such apartments after the sale. 

 

5.      It is found that by letter dated June 29, 2004 the respondent denied the complainant’s request claiming that the records were exempt from disclosure.

 

6.      By letter dated July 23, 2004 and filed on July 29, 2004, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request.

 

7.      Section 1-210(a) 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. 

 

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

 

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

 

10.   At the hearing on this matter the respondent argued that the requested records could be incriminating or exculpating and therefore would reveal the respondent’s strategy and/or negotiations with respect to the action filed against it by the former tenants of the Ridgefield Apartments.  The respondent claimed that 1-210(b)(4), G.S., is applicable to the requested records and such records are permissibly exempt from disclosure. 

 

11.   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 . . . .”

 

12.   It is found that disclosure of the requested records, which were created prior to the pending litigation, would not reveal the respondent’s strategy with respect to the action brought by the former tenants of the Ridgefield Apartments. 

 

13.  It is also found that there is no evidence in the record of this case that the respondent and the former tenants are engaged in negotiations and that disclosure of the requested records would reveal such negotiations. 

 

14.  It is concluded therefore that the respondent failed to prove that the requested records are permissibly exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(4), G.S.

 

15.  It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to comply with the complainant’s request.

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

 

1.      The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy of the initial contract, all contract amendments and all correspondence related to the sale of the Ridgeland Apartments, as described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above.

 

2.      Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the disclosure provisions of  1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 13, 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:

 

Wesley S. Lubee, Jr.

15 Montowese Trail

Wallingford, CT 06492

 

Housing Authority,

Town of Wallingford

c/o E. James Loughlin, Esq.

150 South Main Street

Wallingford, CT 06492

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-340FD/paj/7/18/2005