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Final Decision FIC2013-697
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Carl Liano,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2013-697
Benefits Coordinator, City of Bridgeport;
and City of Bridgeport,
     Respondents
June 25, 2014

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 21, 2014, 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 October 23, 2013, the complainant requested the following information from the respondent benefits coordinator (hereinafter “the coordinator”), excluding the medical information and the addresses of the persons identified in the request:
a. "[l]ist of the Bridgeport Police overtime figures for 2012, as was previously provided [f]or the year 2011, for Heart & Hypertension recipients/dependents;"
b. "[l]ist of all Bridgeport Police Department & Bridgeport Fire Department members & Retirees, who are recipients receiving or eligible to receive Heart & Hypertension Benefits, including widows/widowers;" and
c. "[l]ist of all Heart & Hypertension recipients as listed in item [b], who currently receive Heart & Hypertension overtime payments.”
(hereinafter the “requested records”).
     3.  It is found that on November 6, 2013, the complainant visited the respondents’ benefits office, inquiring about the status of his request described in paragraph 2, above, and was informed by a receptionist that such request was sent to the Bridgeport City Attorney’s office.
     4.  By letter dated November 6, 2013 and filed with the Commission on November 7, 2013, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of the records described in paragraph 2, above.  The complainant also requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the coordinator.
     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 “any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
     8.  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 1-212(a), G.S.
     9.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant informed the Commission that he had received the records described in paragraphs 2.a. and 2.c., above.  The complainant also stated that the only issues before the Commission are an incomplete list he received from the coordinator in response to his request described in paragraph 2.b., above, and his request for “sanctions against the coordinator” for purposefully withholding responsive records that were easily accessible on the coordinator’s computer at the time of the complainant’s October 23, 2013 request described in paragraph 2, above.  Accordingly, only such issues shall be addressed herein.
     10. It is found that, at the time of the complainant’s October 23, 2013 request for the records described in paragraph 2.a., above, such records were stored on the coordinator’s computer.  It is also found that, at the time of the complainant’s request, the records described in paragraphs 2.b. and 2.c., above, were stored and maintained by the respondents’ third party administrator, PMA Companies, (hereinafter “PMA”) who manages the respondents’ workers’ compensation benefit plans. 
     11. It is found that the coordinator began the process of locating, compiling and reviewing the requested records described in paragraph 2, above, in November, 2013.  It is also found that, beginning in November, 2013, the coordinator made several requests to PMA for copies of the requested records described in paragraphs 2.b. and 2.c., above.
     12. It is found that, by letter dated February 20, 2014, the coordinator informed the complainant that “the only information currently available is a list of Police Overtime figures for 2012,” which the coordinator attached to the letter.  It is also found that the coordinator informed the complainant that the records described in paragraphs 2.b. and 2.c., above, were awaiting finalization from PMA and that such records would be provided to the complainant once the information was “finalized” and “verified.”
     13. It is found that, by letter dated May 14, 2014, the coordinator provided the complainant with records responsive to the complainant’s request described in paragraphs 2.b. and 2.c., above, after receiving such records from PMA on the same day.
     14. The complainant contended that the records provided by the coordinator in response to his request described in paragraph 2.b., above, were incomplete.  Specifically, the complainant contended that upon inspection of such records, he determined that over a dozen names of people, including relatives that he knows should be listed among the records, were missing.
     15. It is found that the respondent coordinator reasonably provided the complainant with all of the records provided to her by PMA.  It is also found that there is no evidence that PMA or the coordinator intended to withhold any of the responsive records from the complainant.  Moreover, counsel for the respondents agreed to personally determine whether the records provided to the complainant are complete and to provide the complainant with any missing responsive records.
     16. It is found that, while the coordinator pursued obtaining copies of the requested records described in paragraph 2.b. and 2.c., above, from PMA, at times, in response to the respondents’ counsel’s inquiries about the status of obtaining such records, the respondents’ provision of such records to the complainant was not timely.  It is found that the respondents were not prompt in complying with the complainant’s request described in paragraphs 2.b. and 2.c., above.
     17.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents violated the promptness requirements of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., with respect to the records described in paragraphs 2.b. and 2.c., above.
     18. As to the complainant’s claim that the coordinator could have provided records that were easily accessible on the coordinator’s computer on the date of the complainant’s request, it is found that the only records that were accessible on the coordinator’s computer at the time of the request were the records described in paragraph 2.a., above.  It is also found that the coordinator reviewed and segregated information responsive to the complainant’s request and created a separate record with the responsive information.  It is further found that the coordinator diligently attempted to provide the complainant with records responsive to the complainant’s request described in paragraph 2.a., above, while balancing other work-related duties.
     19. It is found, therefore, that the coordinator was prompt in responding to the complainant’s request described in paragraph 2.a., above. 
     20. It is concluded that the respondents did not violate the promptness requirements of §1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S. with respect to the records described in paragraph 2.a., above.
     21. With respect to the complainant’s request for the imposition of a civil penalty, the Commission, in its discretion, declines to consider that request based on the facts and circumstances of this case.

     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 comply with the promptness provisions of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
     2.  The respondents shall forthwith contact PMA which manages and maintains the requested records described in paragraph 2.b., of the findings, above, and request that PMA conduct another search for such records.  If the respondents are able to secure additional records from PMA that are responsive to the complainant’s request described in paragraph 2.b., of the findings, above, the respondents shall forward copies of such records to the complainant.  If the respondents are unable to secure any additional records, they shall immediately inform the complainant of such fact by letter.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 25, 2014.
__________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
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:
Carl Liano
166 Ice House Road
Unit 23
Watertown, CT  06779
Benefits Coordinator, City of Bridgeport;
and City of Bridgeport
c/o Gregory M. Conte, Esq.
Bridgeport City Attorney’s Office
999 Broad Street
Bridgeport, CT  06604

____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2013-697/FD/cac/6/25/2014