Court Decisions 2014
In Gould v. FOI Commission, 314 Conn. 802 (2014), a sharply divided Connecticut Supreme Court held that the language of the Teacher Negotiation Act (“TNA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-153f, did not support the previously widely-accepted belief that arbitration panels are public agencies.
The three dissenting justices in Gould concluded, however, that the language of the statute, its legislative history, as well as the public policy principles underling both the FOI Act and the TNA indicate that the legislature intended that arbitration panels be public agencies. As public agencies, hearings conducted by arbitration panels must comply with the FOI Act; that is, strategy and negotiation sessions may be closed to the public, but all evidentiary proceedings must be open. All three dissenting justices would have affirmed the decision of the FOI Commission and the decision of the Superior Court dismissing the plaintiffs’ appeals.
The FOIC concluded that grant numbers and the names of animal researchers at the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) who violated research protocols were exempt from disclosure pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-210(b)(19). The court reversed, concluding that the Commission improperly applied the standard of proof required under §1-210(b)(18), rather than the standard required by Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-210(b)(19). The court ordered disclosure of the grant numbers and names(and associated grant numbers). The superior court’s decision has been appealed by the Department of Administrative Services and UCHC.