FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Linda Lee,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-315
Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Children and Families; and State
of Connecticut, Department of Children and
Families,
 
  Respondents January 13, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 16, 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.  By letter dated May 27, 2009, and filed with the Commission on May 29, 2009, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (hereinafter “FOI”) Act by failing to provide records she requested in her April 29, 2009 letter described in paragraph 3, below.

 

            3.  It is found that, by letter dated April 29, 2009, the complainant requested that the respondents provide her with copies of “all records of grievances filed in the last 10 years, concerning mold and mold exposure in all the Department of Children and Families[’] Regional Offices, the main office, CJTS, Riverview, High Meadows, and CT Children’s Place.”  The complainant also requested all non-privileged related reports.  (hereinafter “the requested records”).

 

            4.  It is found that, by letter dated May 6, 2009, the respondents acknowledged receipt of the complainant’s request.  The respondents also informed the complainant that they began “researching the information.”

 

5.  It is found that, by letter dated May 27, 2009, the complainant renewed her April 29, 2009 request to the respondents for the requested records.

 

6.  It is found that, by letter dated June 5, 2009, the respondents informed the complainant that they had “completed the research into [her] Freedom of Information request” described in paragraphs 3 and 5, above. 

 

7.  It is also found that, on June 16, 2009, a friend of the complainant picked up approximately 450 pages of records that the respondents compiled in response to the complainant’s request described in paragraphs 3 and 5, above.

 

8.  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.

 

9.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

[e]xcept 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 the provisions of section 1-212.

 

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

 

11.  It is found that to the extent the respondents maintain the requested records, such records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-211(a), G.S.

 

12.  At the hearing on this matter, the complainant contended that the respondents provided her with records containing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (hereinafter “OSHA”) reports related to mold at Department of Children and Families, but that she had not received any grievances.  The complainant also clarified her request described in paragraphs 3 and 5, above, indicating that she was also seeking any records that triggered the making of the OSHA reports.

 

13.  At the hearing on this matter, the respondents provided the complainant with an envelope containing records that included a log of grievances, grievances made to the respondent department related to mold, OSHA reports, emails and other related records.  The respondents indicated that some of the records provided at the hearing were additional emails and records that were later discovered after further searches for responsive records.  The respondents also stated that grievances made to the respondent department are kept in the file of the employee who makes the complaint.  The respondents further stated that some complaints are made orally to OSHA and not always through grievances against the respondent department. 

 

14.  With respect to the complainant’s request described in paragraphs 3 and 5 above, the respondents claim that they have provided the complainant with all of the requested records.

 

15.  It is found that the respondents conducted a diligent search and provided the complainant with the requested records as described in paragraphs 7 and 13, above.

 

16.  It is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by failing to provide the complainant with the requested records.

 

            17.  It is found, however, that the respondents failed to promptly comply with the complainant’s requests described in paragraphs 3 and 5, above.

 

18.  Consequently, it is concluded that the respondents violated the promptness requirements of 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S., in this matter.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 13, 2010.

 

____________________________

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:

 

Linda Lee

42 Morehouse Avenue

Milford, CT 06460

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Children and Families; and

State of Connecticut, Department of Children and Families

C/o Thomas De Matteo, Esq., 

505 Hudson Street

Hartford, CT 06106

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2009-315FD/sw/1/19/2010