Office of Corporation Counsel of the City of Danbury v. Freedom of Information Commission
Disclosure of records of individuals who are deceased would not violate Connecticut General Statutes §1-210(b)(2), because, even if family members object, the deceased are not entitled to the right of privacy. In 2011, Attorney Elisabeth Maurer requested thousands of personnel records from the City of Danbury in connection with employment litigation in District Court. Maurer requested the disclosure of 24 employees' pension or sick leave requests and related documents and medical reports from any of 29 doctors. The city objected that the request was unreasonably burdensome, because the city lacked a computer database for the medical records. The Freedom of Information Commission found that the city violated the Freedom of Information Act and ordered the city to disclose the medical records. The city appealed. The court rejected Attorney Maurer's argument that the records are not medical documents, because there is no doctor-patient relationship. The records include medical information that includes injuries, conditions, diagnoses, medical procedures and medications. The court also rejected Attorney Maurer's claim that individuals who filed records with the municipality voluntarily waived the right to privacy. C.G.S. §1-210(b)(2) affirms that a reasonable expectation of privacy exists. Disclosure of records of individuals who are deceased would not violate C.G.S. §1-210(b)(2). Even if family members object, the deceased are not entitled to the right of privacy. The court rejected the city's claim that Attorney Maurer was engaged on a fishing expedition in connection with litigation, and that the underlying litigation has concluded. Maurer's motives are not pertinent. The Freedom of Information Act protects the public's right to know, as opposed to the rights of individuals. The status of the District Court suit is not pertinent. The city may not raise due-process claims of individuals who are the subject of the records requests. Although the city argued that the request for medical reports of 29 doctors would require a search of every employee record, a preliminary screen narrowed the search to 400 names. Disclosure would not be highly offensive to a reasonable individual. The records concern matters of legitimate public interest. Thirteen items involve highly personal information that should be redacted.