State Records Committee Appeal 95-02
L. CHRIS CARTER, Appellant, v.
UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, Appellee
DECISION AND ORDER, CASE NO. 95-02
Appellant, L. Chris Carter, seeks an order reversing Appellee's denial of Appellant's request for certain records that are held by Appellee. The records in question are patient schedules, patient care plans and hemo dialysis flow sheets prepared by Appellant at the University of Utah Dialysis Unit located in Provo, Utah. Appellee supplied certain other documents to Appellant, but has denied access to the specified documents on grounds they are properly classified "private." Appellant was present at the hearing before the Records Committee on April 19, 1995 and was also represented at the hearing by Arthur F. Sandack, Esq. and Appellee was represented at the hearing by Laura S. Scott, Assistant General Counsel.
The State Records Committee, having reviewed the written materials submitted by the parties and having heard testimony and argument, now issues the following decision and order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
The Appeal is granted with limitations. It is stipulated by the parties and found by the Committee that the records in question are properly classified "private" under Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302. However, Appellant contends the records should be released to her anyway under the "weighing" provision of Utah Code 62-2- 403(11)(b). That provision is as follows:
(b) The records committee may, upon consideration and weighing of the various interests and public policies pertinent to the classification and disclosure or non- disclosure, order the disclosure of information properly classified as private, controlled, or protected if the public interest favoring access outweighs the interest favoring restriction of access.
Appellant has been terminated from her position with Appellee and seeks the records for the purpose of determining whether they may be relevant to Appellant's position that the termination was wrongful, and if so, for the subsequent purpose of using the records in support of Appellant's challenge to the termination. Certain personnel of Appellee have had access to these records for consideration on the termination question though Appellee has stated it has not based and will not base its termination decision on information in those records. Appellee also states that in reviewing the termination, the reviewing official, Mr. Fred Peterson, did not consider the records and that upon future review of the matter the responsible individuals (Mr. Peterson, the Personnel Relations Committee. the Vice President for Health Sciences) will not review these patient records in making their decisions regarding Ms. Carter's grievance.
The Committee determines that the interest in disclosure of the records outweighs the interest favoring restriction of access. Appellant should have the same access to records that have been reviewed by Appellee personnel regarding the termination issue as Appellee had. Further, even if Appellant does not base its termination decision on these records, they may be relevant to Appellant's position, affirmatively, that Appellant was a "good" employee who should not be terminated. Appellee should redact and segregate the records under Utah Code Ann. 63-2-307 so as to protect insofar as possible the privacy interests of individual patients while at the same time disclosing the information that is relevant to Appellant's conduct as an employee for purposes of the termination and grievance proceedings. Further, Requester shall limit her use of the indicated records to termination and grievance proceedings to which the records may be relevant under Utah Code Ann. 63-2-403(11)(c), leaving any question of their use in the courts to determination of the courts.
WHEREFORE, it is ordered that Appellant's appeal from the denial of her request for access to the records is granted with the limitations indicated above.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to district court. The petition for review must be filed no later than 30 days after the date of this order. The petition for judicial review must be a complaint. The complaint and the appeals process are governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and by Utah Code Ann. 63-2-404 and 63-2-502(7). The Court is required to make its decision de novo. In order to protect its rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.
Entered this 21st day of April, 1995.
MAX J. EVANS,
Chair, State Records Committee.