FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Misty Williams and Dawn Massey,  
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-569

James Finch, Finance Director,

Town of Branford,

 
  Respondent August 24, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 19, 2005, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, this matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2004-457 Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. James Finch, Finance Director, Town of Branford; Docket #FIC 2004-468, Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. James Finch, Finance Director, Town of Branford; Docket #FIC 2004-473, Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. James Finch, Finance Director, Town of Branford; and Docket #FIC 2004-541, Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. James Finch, Finance Director, Town of Branford.  At the hearing in this matter, Dawn Massey for whom the complainant, Misty Williams, is agent, requested and was granted party status, pursuant to 1-206(b)(1), G.S.  The case caption has been amended accordingly.

 

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 dated November 20, 2004, the complainants made a request for a certified copy of:

 

“the town’s record that contains the list(s) of addresses that was attached to the corresponding invoices(s)/bill(s) and check request form(s) that was back-up documentation identifying the ten addresses for the inspections that underlie the issuance of payment by the Town of Branford to Michael Milici in the amount of $1,650.00” (hereinafter “requested records”).

 

3.      It is found that by letter dated December 9, 2004, the respondent’s administrative assistant responded to the complainant’s request informing the complainants that the town does not maintain the requested records. 

 

4.      By letter dated December 18, 2004 and filed on December 21, 2004, the complainants appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with her records request.  The complainants requested the imposition of civil penalty against the respondent.  At the hearing on this matter the respondent request the imposition of civil penalty against the complainants.

 

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 . . . 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. 

 

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

 

7.      It is found that the complainants, pursuant to a prior request to inspect certain records, received a plain copy of the requested record.

 

8.      It is found that the complainants determined later that they wanted a certified copy of the requested records and accordingly sent the November 20, 2004 records request to the respondent.

 

9.      It is found that the respondent’s administrative assistant simply confused the records the complainants requested in their November 20, 2004 request with similar records the complainants requested in an August 9, 2004 request. 

 

10.   It is found that the respondent’s administrative assistant is responsible for responding to all FOI requests and that during the period between September 3 and October 19, 2004, the respondent received 43 records requests from the complainants. 

 

11.   It is found that, in conjunction with her other responsibilities, the respondent’s administrative assistant was somewhat overwhelmed with the volume of requests for records to which she had to respond and did not act in bad faith with respect to the complainants’ November 20, 2004 request.

 

12.   Nonetheless, it is concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainants with a certified copy of the requested records. 

 

13.   The complainants’ request for the imposition of a civil penalty against respondent is hereby denied.

 

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 complainants with a certified copy of the requested records described in paragraph 2, above, free of charge.

 

2.      Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the disclosure provisions of 1-210(a) and1-212(a), G.S.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 24, 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:

 

Misty Williams

225 Stony Creek Road

Branford, CT 06405

 

Dawn Massey

225 Stony Creek Road

Branford, CT 06405

 

James Finch,

Finance Director,

Town of Branford

c/o Elizabeth P. Gilson, Esq.

383 Orange Street

New Haven, CT 06511

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-569FD/paj/8/25/2005