Sargent v. Larobina
Because a total of 259 days had elapsed since the complainant's request for records and he had yet to receive access to any records, even if the respondents did not fully understand what the complainant was seeking, the respondents violated the promptness requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. Joseph Sargent appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the city of Stamford and Michael Larobina and Burt Rosenberg from the Office of the City Attorney, City of Stamford, violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to comply with his records request. The complainant withdrew his complaint as to Rosenberg. His later request to withdraw the partial withdrawal was denied. At the contested hearing, Sargent clarified his request for records concerning FOIA requests for a certain period. The FOIC found that the respondents misunderstood the request and that the misunderstanding could have been resolved with one phone call or email and that both sides could have put some effort into communicating about what was being sought and the time needed to compile the records. Sargent hastily filed his complaint which only served to catapult the case into a litigious posture. Nevertheless, Sargent continued to seek access to FOI requests received by the respondents between certain dates with the respondent's responses to such requests. The complainant was not seeking access to the responsive records or to intra-agency communications about the requests. The FOIC concluded that the records sought were not exempt from disclosure. The FOIC found that even if the respondents did not fully understand what the complainant sought, by the time of the contested hearing, a total of 259 days had elapsed since the request and the complainant had yet to receive access to any records. Therefore, the respondents violated the promptness requirements and disclosure provisions of C.G.S. §1-210(a) and §1-212(a). The respondents were ordered to strictly comply henceforth with the promptness requirements of the FOIA and to provide the complainant with free copies of requested records. Disclosure was permitted on a rolling basis over a two-month period.