FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Pat DeAngelis,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-430

Chief, Fire Department,

Town of Middlebury; and

Fire Department, Town of

Middlebury,

 
  Respondents January 27, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 1, 2009, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared 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 sent on or about July 3, 2009, the complainant requested four categories of records from the respondents, concerning certain information contained in the respondents’ Form 990, filed with the Internal Revenue Service, for the year 2006.  In addition, it is found that such letter requested records relating to a “video extraction.” 

 

3.  By letter of complaint dated July 23, 2009, and filed on July 24, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with the request for records described in paragraph 2, above.

 

4.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant withdrew the complaint as it relates to all of the requests contained in the letter, described in paragraph 2, above, except for the following:

 

“Statement 5 of the tax return states that ‘Medical and Living expenses were provided to members in need’ to the tune of $18,623.00.  Please provide for my inspection the documents that attest to whom were the monies paid and for what purposes and what individual or group approved said disbursements.”

 

Thus, such request shall be the sole consideration herein.

 

            5.  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.

 

6.  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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

            7.   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.”

 

8.  It is found that the records described in paragraph 4, above, are public records and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless they are exempt from disclosure. 

 

      9.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents contended that the records, described in paragraph 4, above, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 7-314(b), G.S., in that they concern the respondents’ fraternal or social matters.  The respondents further contended that the complainant is aware of this well-settled law, and that this complaint was filed with the Commission simply for the purpose of harassing them.

 

            10.  Section 7-314(b), G.S., provides that:

 

“[t]he records and meetings of a volunteer fire department which is established by municipal charter or constituted as a not-for-profit Connecticut corporation shall not be subject to the provisions of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, as defined in section 1-200, if such records and meetings concern fraternal or social matters.” 

 

            11.  It is found that the respondent is a volunteer fire department constituted as a not-for-profit Connecticut corporation, and further, that the records at issue concern its fraternal or social matters. 

 

            12.  The complainant contended, at the hearing in this matter, that the respondents must obtain status as a “fraternal beneficiary society, order, or association” from the Internal Revenue Service before the exemption in 7-314(b), G.S., applies.

 

            13.  The complainant cites no authority for such argument and it is found to be without merit and contrary to established case law.

 

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

 

            1.  The complaint is dismissed.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 27, 2010.

 

 

___________________________

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:

 

Pat DeAngelis

PO Box 191

Marion, CT 06444

 

Chief, Fire Department,

Town of Middlebury

c/o Paul Perrotti, Chief

67 Tucker Hill Road

Middlebury, CT 06762

 

Fire Department, Town of

Middlebury

67 Tucker Hill Road

Middlebury, CT 06762

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2009-430FD/paj/2/1/2010