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Final Decision FIC2014-027
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Vernon Leftridge,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2014-027
Attorney General, State of Connecticut,
Office of the Attorney General; and
State of Connecticut, Office of the
Attorney General,
     Respondents
September 10, 2014

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 22, 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 email dated January 14, 2014, the complainant requested copies of the following records from the respondents:  “records of any notice of claims, [or] public lawsuit filed by your office as a plaintiff against me or my minor child.”  Thereafter, it is found that, by a second email also dated January 14, 2014, the complainant made a slightly different request for records from the respondents, as follows:  “if you have records of a public claim notice (sic) filed by your law firm again me, please provide me with a certified copy of this alleged notice of petition against me or my minor child.”  Finally, it is found that, by email dated January 15, 2014, the complainant sent the respondents a third request for records, as follows:
     My FOI is very clear, detailed and specific for certified copies of the alleged following:
a. Requests for records of alleged initiated Petitions, Notice of claims, [and] Lawsuits filed by the Office of Connecticut Attorney General as plaintiff against me or my biological minor child . . . between January 1, 2004 through January 1, 2014, including the public official identity (sic) who filed any of the forgoing specifically described requested documents if any such public records exist;
b. Request for records of alleged initiated Petitions, Notice of Claims, Lawsuits, [and] Public Notice of Suit filed by the State of Connecticut as a plaintiff against me or my biological minor child . . . between January 1, 2004 through January 14, 2014, including the public official identity (sic) who is alleged to have filed any claim pursuant to the forgoing specifically described requested documents if any such public records exist; and
c. Requests for records of alleged initiated Petitions, Notice of Claims, Title IV-D notice of suit, Lawsuits, [and] Public Notice of Suit filed by the Connecticut Department of Social Services as a plaintiff against me or my biological minor child . . . between January 1, 2004 through January 1, 2014, including the public official identity (sic) who is alleged to have filed any claim pursuant to the forgoing specifically described documents if any such public records exist.
     3.  By letter dated and filed January 15, 2014, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOI Act”) by denying him access to public 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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212 . . . .
     6.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
     7.  It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
     8.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant contended that it was his belief that the respondents had filed a lawsuit against him or his minor child, so they should have some records responsive to his request.  In addition, by way of post-hearing brief, the complainant requested that the Commission impose civil penalties against the respondents. 
     9.  It is found that, by letter dated January 16, 2014—which was only two days following the complainant’s initial request for records, (see ¶ 2, above), the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s requests, but indicated that they had no responsive records.
     10. It is further found that, by letter dated February 7, 2014, the respondents again corresponded with the complainant.  It is found that, at that time, the respondents informed the complainant that, while they did not have any records with regard to lawsuits or petitions commenced by their office against the complainant or his minor child, they did discover in their possession some motions, with summonses attached, which had been commenced by the State of Connecticut in a child support proceeding.  It is found that the respondents did not initially consider these records responsive because the Office of the Attorney General had not commenced these proceedings.  It is found that the respondents informed the complainant that, while he should already have these motions in his possession, if he desired a copy there were 69 pages which they would provide to him at a cost of $17.25 (69 pages x .25 cents per page).  It is found, however, that the complainant did not respond to the February 7, 2014 letter. 
     11. It is found that, just as the respondents suspected, the complainant did not respond to the respondents’ February 7, 2014 letter concerning the records in their possession because he was not interested in obtaining records where the Office of the Attorney General was not the named party initiating a litigation. 
     12. It is further found that, in this case, the respondents would not have records responsive to the complainant’s requests as they are counsel to multiple other agencies, specifically in the child support context, that might file suit against individuals.  However, it is found that, because the respondent Office of the Attorney General is counsel to these other agencies, such office would not be the party—that is, the petitioner or the plaintiff--initiating a legal action against the complainant or his minor child.
     13. It is therefore found that the respondents did not maintain any records reflecting that the respondents had initiated a legal proceeding against the complainant or his minor child.  It is further found that, other than the records which were offered to the complainant, the respondents did not maintain any records which were relevant to or related to another state agency initiating a legal proceeding against the complainant or his minor child.
     14. It is concluded that the respondents did not violate the provisions of the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.
     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 September 10, 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:
Vernon Leftridge
73 A. Congress Street
Hartford, CT  06114
Attorney General, State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney
General; and State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General
c/o Antoria D. Howard, Esq.
State of Connecticut,
Office of the Attorney General
55 Elm Street
P.O. Box 120
Hartford, CT  06141-0120
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2014-027/FD/cac/9/10/2014