FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Bryant K. Rollins,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2007-296

Michael Phillips, FOI Liaison,

State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction,

Osborn Correctional Institution,

 
  Respondent November 28, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 28, 2007, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The complainant, who is incarcerated, appeared via teleconference, pursuant to the January 2004 memorandum of understanding between the Commission and the Department of Correction, See Docket No. CV 03-0826293, Anthony Sinchak v. FOIC, et al., Superior Court, J.D., of Hartford at Hartford, Corrected Order dated January 27, 2004 (Sheldon, J.).

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.      It is found that, by letter dated April 16, 2007, the complainant made a request to the respondent for a copy of the following:  documents that reflect the prevalence of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (“MRSA”) within Department of Correction facilities.

 

3.      By letter of complaint dated May 14, 2007, and filed May 16, 2007, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by not complying with his request for records.  The complainant also requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondent.

 

4.      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 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

 

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 . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with 1-212.

 

6.      Section 1-212(a)(1), 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 respondent maintains the records pertaining to MRSA described in paragraph 2, above, and it is therefore concluded that such records are “public records” and must be disclosed promptly in accordance with 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), unless they are exempt from disclosure. 

8.      It is found that, by letter dated March 27, 2007, the complainant filed a request with the respondent for the records that are at issue in this matter.

9.      It is further found that, by letter dated April 24, 2007, the respondent replied to the March 27, 2007 request, indicating that he had no records responsive to such request.

10.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant specifically stated that neither his March 27, 2007 request, nor the respondent’s April 24, 2007 response thereto are at issue in this matter.

11.  With respect to the complainant’s April 16, 2007 request, the respondent testified that he first received notice of such request on or about July 30, 2007, when he received the Commission’s order to show cause in this matter. 

 

12.  It is found that in the normal course of events, the respondent should have received the April 16, 2007 request shortly after the complainant mailed it.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondent offered no explanation as to why he did not receive such request in the normal course of events.

13.  Nevertheless, it is found that, upon receipt of the Commission’s order to show cause in this matter, the respondent again searched for records in his possession that would be responsive to the request and found five pages of responsive records.

14.  It is found that, by letter dated August 2, 2007, the respondent provided the complainant with the records described in paragraph 13, above, except as provided in paragraph 16, below.  It is further found that the respondent waived the fee for these records.

15.  The respondent admitted, and it is found, that the respondent had inadvertently missed the records described in paragraph 13, above, when he conducted the previous search in response to the complainant’s March 27, 2007 request.

16.  It is further found that, based on privacy concerns, the respondent withheld a one-page document, and made certain redactions to the four pages of documents provided to the complainant. 

17.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant testified that he was not challenging the respondent’s redactions in the documents provided to him or the decision to withhold the one-page document. 

 

18.  Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, it is found that the respondent violated 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with copies of the requested records promptly.

 

19.  Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, the Commission declines to consider the imposition of civil penalties.

 

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

 

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

 

            Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 28, 2007.

 

 

________________________________

Wendy R.B. Paradis

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:

 

Bryant K. Rollins, #14096

Enfield Correctional Institution

289 Shaker Road

PO Box 1500

Enfield, CT  06082

 

Michael Phillips, FOI Liaison,

State of Connecticut

Department of Correction

c/o Nicole Anker, Esq. 

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT  06109

 

 

 

___________________________________

Wendy R.B. Paradis

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2007-226FD/wrbp/11/30/2007