Final Decision FIC2015-500
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Cindy L. Robinson,
||Docket #FIC 2015-500|
Clerk, Town of Trumbull; and
Town of Trumbull,
January 27, 2016
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 14, 2015, and August 23, 2015, at which times the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. For purposes of hearing, this matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2015-161, Cindy Robinson v. Chief, Police Department, Town of Trumbull; Police Department, Town of Trumbull; and Town of Trumbull.
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 to the respondents1 dated January 23, 2015, the complainant requested to inspect, and to receive a copy of:
(a) all documents regarding the employment of William Ruscoe, a police officer for the Town of Trumbull, including but not limited to background check, employment contract, performance reviews, interview notes, complaints, separation documents, letters of recommendation, any and all emails concerning William Ruscoe, minutes of meetings where William Ruscoe’s interaction with minors was discussed, training manuals applicable to William Ruscoe’s employment and/or position specifically including but not limited to sexual abuse and/or sexual harassment prevention; and
(b) any and all policies, procedures, handbooks, requirements, rules, regulations promulgated by the Town of Trumbull and directed to agents and/or sexual harassment prevention [and] the interaction of adults with minors.
The complainant also requested the records described in paragraph 2(a), above, from the Trumbull Police Department. The alleged denial of that request also was appealed to the Commission, and is the subject of Docket #FIC 2015-161, Cindy Robinson v. Chief, Police Department, Town of Trumbull; Police Department, Town of Trumbull; and Town of Trumbull.
3. It is found that, by letter dated January 26, 2015, counsel for the respondents informed the complainant that her request had been received and that “the Town will undertake a reasonably diligent search to identify these records and shall respond within a reasonable time…”
4. By letter of complaint dated February 25, 2015 and filed March 3, 2015, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with the request, described in paragraph 2, above.
5. In their post-hearing brief, the respondents contended that their January 26, 2015 letter did not constitute a denial of the request, and that therefore, the Commission lacks jurisdiction to consider this appeal.
6. Section 1-206(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part that:
[a]ny denial of the right to inspect or copy records provided for under section 1-210 shall be made to the person requesting such right by the public agency official who has custody or control of the public record, in writing, within four business days of such request, except when the request is determined to be subject to subsections (b) and (c) of section 1-214, in which case such denial shall be made, in writing, within ten business days of such request. Failure to comply with a request to so inspect or copy such public record within the applicable number of business days shall be deemed to be a denial.
7. It is found that the respondents received the request, described in paragraph 2, above, on January 26, 2015. It is found that the respondents determined that the request was subject to subsections (b) and (c) of §1-214, G.S.2 It is further found that the respondents “fail[ed] to comply with [such] request” within 10 business days of its receipt. Accordingly, it is concluded that the request was deemed to be denied on February 9, 2015, and that the complainant timely appealed such denial to the Commission. It is therefore concluded that the Commission has jurisdiction to decide this appeal.
2The respondents in this case, and the respondents in Docket #FIC 2015-161, apparently were unaware that the complainant made two separate requests for the same and similar records to two different public agencies. Thus, up until the date of the first hearing in this matter, all respondents and counsel for all respondents, treated and responded to the two separate requests as one request.
8. 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.
9. 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.”
10. It is found that the respondents do not maintain records responsive to the request, described in paragraph 2, above.
11. Based upon the foregoing, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., as alleged by the complainant.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 27, 2016.
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:
Cindy L. Robinson
c/o Timothy M. Ramsey, Esq.
Tremont, Sheldon, Robinson, Mahoney, P.C.
64 Lyon Terrace
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Clerk, Town of Trumbull; and Town of Trumbull
c/o Dennis J. Kokenos, Esq.
Owens, Schine & Nicola, P.C.
799 Silver Lane
Trumbull, CT 06611
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission