• Freedom of Information Commission
  • FIC 2013-207
  • Mar 12 2014 (Date Decided)
  • Freedom of Information Commission

The fact that a request is “burdensome” does not relieve a respondent agency from its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act. Steven DeBow appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the Metro Hartford Information Services and its acting chief information officer violated the FOIA by failing to comply with his requests for records, including for all emails, letters and memos between Diane Georgantas and Oscar Padua for certain dates and all records referring to both of them in a non-work relationship. The FOIC found that as of the final hearing, the complainant had not received any responsive records. Using the names as search terms, 72,000 emails were located and copied onto CD-Roms and sent to corporation counsel to determine whether any of the records were exempt from disclosure. Alexandra Lombardi, associate counsel in corporation counsel’s office, reviewed several but not all of the CDs. Many of the emails reviewed contained confidential student information and none was responsive. Other attorneys assisted in the review and other search terms were used. The FOIC found that the respondents did not maintain responsive emails about the two individuals “in a non-work relationship.” Searching for the names “Diane and Oscar,” 12,000 documents were found. 3,700 records, other than emails, existed regarding Diane and Oscar in a non-work relationship responsive to the request. At the final hearing, the respondents posited that it was too burdensome to resume their manual review of the remaining records that were potentially responsive to the request. The FOIC found that contrary to their position, the fact that a request is “burdensome” did not relieve the respondents from their FOIA obligations. The respondents violated C.G.S. §1-210(a) and §1-212(a) by failing to provide the complainant with copies of responsive emails and other records between Diane and Oscar and responsive records, other than emails, about Diane and Oscar. The respondents were directed to resume their review of potentially responsive records and to provide the complainant with free copies of any responsive non-exempt records found.

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