Maurer v. Office of Corporation Counsel, City of Danbury
Portions of requested records specifying medications, medical diagnoses and treatments administered to public employees, did not pertain to legitimate matters of public concern and their disclosure would be highly offensive to a reasonable person and constitute an invasion of privacy under C.G.S. §1-210(b)(2). Elisabeth Maurer appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the City of Danbury and its Office of Corporation Counsel violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to comply with her records request. Records in issue included certain pension applications, sick or injury leave requests and records of medical evaluations performed by 30 specified medical providers. The city notified the identified individuals and 16 objected. The respondents claimed the documents were exempt from disclosure including under C.G.S. §1-210(b)(2), §1-210(b)(10) and §§52-146c, d, e and o. The FOIC reviewed the records in camera. Certain records, including physical examination reports and hospital records, were found exempt under C.G.S. §1-210(b)(10) as communications privileged by the doctor-patient or therapist-patient relationship. For records claimed exempt under C.G.S. §1-210(b)(2) on privacy grounds, the respondents violated C.G.S. §1-214(c) C.G.S. §1-210(a) and §1-212(a) by failing to disclose records of individuals who did not object. For the remaining records, the FOIC applied the test for the privacy exemption established by the 1993 Connecticut Supreme Court in Perkins v. Freedom of Information Commission. Records, including physical exams and hospital records, containing information pertaining to a public employee's work status and fitness for duty, attendance, work limitations, accident and injury reports and investigations and pension related records, pertained to legitimate matters of public concern. Disclosure of such records would not be highly offensive to a reasonable person to constitute an invasion of privacy under C.G.S. §1-210(b)(2). The respondents violated the FOIA by withholding such records, except for portions specifying medications, treatment and medical diagnoses. This information was exempt under C.G.S. §1-210(b)(2). Despite the burden, the respondents were obligated to search for the requested independent medical evaluations and violated C.G.S. §1-210(a) and §1-212(a) by failing to disclose any such responsive records. The respondents were directed to provide copies of nonexempt records with exempt information redacted and, henceforth, to comply with C.G.S. §1-210(a) and §1-212(a).