Final Decision FIC2011-232
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2011-232|
Manager, Western Region,
State of Connecticut,
Department of Social Services; and
State of Connecticut,
Department of Social Services,
February 8, 2012
This matter was heard as a contested case on September 13, 2011, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the motion to dismiss and on the complaint.
At the hearing in the above-captioned matter, the respondents moved to dismiss this case.
After brief argument from both sides on the respondents’ motion to dismiss, the hearing officer denied the motion so that evidence and testimony could be taken on the substantive issues in the case.
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 28, 2011, Lynnia Milliun, as conservator for her sister Leslie Milliun, made a request to the Department of Social Service’s Torrington, Connecticut office for her sister’s DSS file. It is found that, by email dated January 31, 2011, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request for records and further indicated that someone would be sending the complainant the documentation that she requested.
3. It is further found that, by emails dated April 5, 2011 and April 28, 2011, the complainant again made requests for her sister’s records. In both the April 5, 2011 email and the April 28, 2011 email, the complainant indicated that she was seeking the remainder of the file and that any records that had been provided to her in response to her January 28, 2011 request for records, need not be provided again.
4. It is found that, by email dated April 28, 2011, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s requests, and indicated that the respondents had forwarded to the complainant all of the responsive records that they had in their possession.
5. By email dated May 2, 2011 and filed May 6, 2011, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying her additional records that she believed continued to be in the respondents’ possession.
6. 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.
7. 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. . . .
8. Section 1-212, 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.”
9. It is found that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraphs 2 and 3, above, and such records are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212, G.S.
10. The respondents contend that the records at issue are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §17b-90(b), G.S., which section provides in relevant part as follows:
No person shall, except for purposes directly connected with the administration of programs of the Department of Social Services and in accordance with the regulations of the commissioner, solicit, disclose, receive or make use of, or authorize, knowingly permit, participate in or acquiesce in the use of, any list of the names of, or any information concerning, persons applying for or receiving assistance from the Department of Social Services or persons participating in a program administered by said department, directly or indirectly derived from the records, papers, files or communications of the state or its subdivisions or agencies, or acquired in the course of the performance of official duties. (Emphasis supplied).
11. It is found that the records described in paragraphs 2 and 3, above, constitute records within the meaning of §17b-90(b), G.S.
12. It is concluded that the requested records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §17b-90(b), G.S.
13. Despite the fact that the requested records are exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act, the respondents acknowledged at the contested case hearing that the complainant, as her sister’s conservator, has a right--albeit not a public access right--to the requested records. It is found that the complainant provided the respondents with a list of records she believes are responsive to her request, yet remain outstanding. The respondents represented that they will use their best efforts to work with the complainant and assist her in obtaining these records.
14. This Commission must examine the complainant’s request for access to the records identified in paragraphs 2 and 3, above, as it would examine any member of the public’s request for access to these same records, and may not consider or rule upon any special status that the complainant contends to have with the person who may be the subject of the records at issue. See Marlow v. FOIC, Docket No. CV 990493141S, 1999 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2756, at *7 (Oct. 12, 1999) (“Thus, the rights created under the FOIA are those of any individual as a member of the public. The Commission understands its charge as the enforcement of the public right to government records”).
15. It is concluded that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of the FOI Act.
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 February 8, 2012.
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:
226 Nettleton Hollow Road
Washington, CT 06793
Manager, Western Region, State of Connecticut,
Department of Social Services; and State of
Connecticut, Department of Social Services
c/o Tanya Feliciano DeMattia, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
55 Elm Street
P.O. Box 120
Hartford, CT 06141-0120
Greenwich, CT 06836
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission