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Workers compensation records not subject to disclosure

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    NMU         CONNECTICUT         Freedom of Information         Nov 23, 1999    

Workers compensation records not subject to disclosure

  • Records regarding disability compensation that are held by a private contractor do not have to be disclosed under state freedom of information laws.

Overruling the state’s Freedom of Information Commission, a state trial court in late October held that the director of finances for the city of Bridgeport does not have to disclose information about workers compensation claims because responsibility for those records has been farmed out to a private contractor.

The state Superior Court in Fairfield said that the FOIC, which hears citizen complaints on the failure of state agencies to provide records under the Connecticut open records law, illegally ordered Jerome Baron, who acts as city comptroller, to provide records requested by Carl Liano. Liano wanted records on his own disability compensation and other records regarding similar compensation.

Although Baron provided Liano some records in response to his request in July 1996, he did not provide access to documents held under contract by an independent contractor.

In March 1997, the commission found that Baron had illegally failed to keep public records in an accessible place of business and had failed to provide prompt access to public records. It ordered Baron to give Liano the records. The city could not convert public records to private records by the “simple expedient of hiring an independent contractor to do the city’s business,” it said.

Baron appealed to the trial court, which reversed the FOIC. The law does not require state agencies to maintain records concerning payments for medical and legal services such as those relating to Liano’s claims, it said.

(Baron v. Freedom of Information Commission)


© 1999 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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