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Freedom of Information Law Supreme Court Opinion

by Zigadto, Janet


SC20686 - Commissioner of Mental Health & Addiction Services v. Freedom of Information Commission ("This appeal presents the issue whether a police report created by the police department at the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital (Whiting) is subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), General Statutes § 1-200 et seq. The police report at issue documented the police department's investigation into the death of a patient at Whiting after a medical event. The named defendant, the Freedom of Information Commission (commission), appeals from the judgment of the trial court, which ordered the disclosure of a redacted version of the police report under FOIA, claiming that the report should be released in its entirety because it is not exempt from disclosure by (1) the psychiatrist-patient communications privilege codified at General Statutes §§ 52-146d (2) and 52-146e (a), or (2) the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), 42 U.S.C. § 1320d et seq., as implemented by the Privacy Rule, 45 C.F.R. § 160.101 et seq. The plaintiffs, the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), disagree and cross appeal, claiming that the police report should not be released at all, even in redacted form, because it is protected by the psychiatrist-patient communications privilege and HIPAA.

We conclude that the police report is not a communication or record, as those terms are used in § 52-146e (a), and, therefore, is not exempt from disclosure under FOIA. Nonetheless, the police report includes information that would identify a patient at Whiting, even though such information specifically was excluded from the FOIA request, and the report therefore should be redacted in the manner described in part III A 2 of this opinion. Because the police report, with minimal redaction, must be disclosed pursuant to FOIA, we further conclude that it is not protected from disclosure by HIPAA and its implementing Privacy Rule. Accordingly, we reverse in part the judgment of the trial court.")