FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Priscilla Dickman,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-765

Director, Health Affairs Policy

Planning, Department of Community

Medicine and Health Care, State of

Connecticut, University of Connecticut

Health Center; and State of Connecticut,

University of Connecticut Health Center,

 
  Respondents July 8, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 17, 2009, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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.  The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  It is found that, by letter dated November 28, 2008, the complainant made a request from the respondents, in which she sought a copy of the following individuals’ emails:

a.       Feliciano Dias, from 2/2003 through 3/2007;

b.      Irene Kowalski, from 2/2003 through 4/2008;

c.       Margaret Swets, from 2/2003 through 4/2008;

d.      Karen Duffy Wallace, from 1/2005 through 8/2008;

e.       Joan Mazzone, from 2/2005 through 7/2007;

f.       Gary Loomis, from 1/2005 through 7/30/2007;

g.      Brian Eaton, from 2/2003 through 4/2007; and

h.      Jessica Van Alstyne, 1/2005 through 8/2008.

             

3.  By email correspondence dated and filed December 4, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by not complying with her request for records.

 

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 section 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 section 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, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraph 2, above, 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.  At the hearing in this case, the respondents’ counsel stated that when the respondents received the complainant’s November 28, 2008 request, they contacted the complainant and asked her to narrow the scope of the request.  The respondents further stated that, according to the respondents, the complainant refused to narrow her request for records. 

 

9.  However, at the hearing, the respondents submitted a letter dated March 13, 2009 into evidence, which letter was authored by respondent Director Dr. Scott L. Wetstone and directed to the complainant.  In the letter, Dr. Wetstone states that, upon receiving the complainant’s November 28, 2008 request, he believed it to be “so similar to [the complainant’s previous] request, that [he] did not perceive this as a new request, but rather simply your attempt to change the scope of your original request.”  Dr. Wetstone further states as follows:  “I have no memory of you ever informing me that you terminated the original FOI request nor can I find any correspondence or other written record informing me or the Health Center of that.” 

 

10.  The Commission takes administrative notice that the previous FOI complaint filed by the complainant entitled Priscilla Dickman v. Director of Health Affairs Planning, State of Connecticut, University of Connecticut Health Center, Office of Health Care Administration; and State of Connecticut, University of Connecticut Health Care Center, Office of Health Center Administration; Docket #FIC 2008-288 was withdrawn by the complainant on September 5, 2008.  The Commission takes additional administrative notice that, on September 10, 2008, it sent a Notice of Withdrawal to all parties of record in such matter, including the respondent director.  

 

11.  Finally, at the hearing, the respondents’ counsel moved the hearing officer to issue an order enjoining the complainant from making such broad FOI requests of the respondents in the future or, in the alternative, to issue an order directing the complainant to narrow the scope of the instant request for records.  The hearing officer denied both motions. 

 

12.  At the hearing, the complainant voluntarily agreed to narrow her request for records in the following manner: The complainant requests that the respondents provide her with all emails from Feliciano Dias, Irene Kowalski, Margaret Swets, Karen Duffy Wallace, Joan Mazzone, Gary Loomis, Brian Eaton, and Jessica Van Alstyne, within the timeframes set forth in paragraph 2, above, that pertain to or mention her in any way. 

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

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

 

2.  Within thirty days of the Notice of Final Decision in this matter, the respondents shall provide the complainant with copies of the emails described in paragraph 12, above, free of charge. 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 8, 2009.

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

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:

 

Priscilla Dickman  

2534 Boston Turnpike

Coventry, CT 06238

 

Director, Health Affairs Policy

Planning, Department of Community

Medicine and Health Care, State of

Connecticut, University of Connecticut

Health Center; and State of Connecticut,

University of Connecticut Health Center

C/o Donald R. Green, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

University of Connecticut Health Center

263 Farmington Avenue, MC 3803

Farmington, CT 06030

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-765FD/sw/7/13/2009