State Records Committee Appeal 02-05
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
DISABILITY LAW CENTER, Appellant, vs.
UTAH TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Appellee.
DECISION AND ORDERCase No. 02-05
By this appeal, the Disability Law Center (the "Center") challenges Utah Transit Authority's ("UTA") denial of access to certain records in UTA's possession concerning wheelchairs and scooters using its paratransit service. The specific information sought by the Center, set forth in detail in its January 8 and January 17, 2002 letters, is attached as Exhibit A hereto.
The State Records Committee, having reviewed the materials submitted by the parties, and having heard oral argument and testimony on April 10, 2002, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. The Government Records Access and Management Act ("GRAMA") specifies that "all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(2). Records that are not public are designated as either "private," "protected," or "controlled." See Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302, -303 and -304. UTA denied the Center access to some of the records sought on the grounds that they "fall within the protected or private classifications of the State's GRAMA Act and our Records Access and Management Policy." Letter of March 1, 2002 from John M. Inglish to John Pace.
2. UTA provided a listing of the records withheld with its response, which included references to the statutes that UTA asserted authorizes their classification as either private or protected.(1) The documents withheld generally fall into one of four categories: (1) accident, injury and incident reports;(2) (2) written communications to or from UTA corporate counsel Desiree Peri; (3) letters to individual Flextrans riders regarding denied eligibility for oversize chairs;(3) and (4) an undated bid package.(4)
3. After reviewing the records, the Committee is persuaded that the accident, injury and incident reports are appropriately classified as private and/or protected in that they contain personal information about employees and passengers involved in accidents and other incidents. See Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302(1)(b), -302(2)(d) and -304(24). UTA is authorized to redact personal identifying information contained in these records. Likewise, UTA is authorized to redact personal identifying information from the letters sent to individual Flextrans riders regarding denied eligibility for oversize chairs.
4. The Committee believes this procedure will adequately protect the privacy of the individuals identified in these records and serve the public interest by requiring the release of the remaining information. The Committee notes that the fact that someone was in a wheelchair, without any additional detail as to who that person was, is not personally identifying information that should be redacted. In reaching these conclusions, the Committee specifically considered whether it should exercise its weighing authority under 63-2-403(11)(b), but decided not to apply it. Redaction of personally identifying information in these records is ordered pursuant to the segregation provisions set forth in Utah Code Ann. 63-2-307.
5. Regarding the written memoranda to and from UTA's attorneys, after reviewing the records, the Committee agrees that these records should be classified as protected under Utah Code Ann. 63-2-304(16), (17) and/or (18). UTA's classification of these records is therefore upheld.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of the Disability Law Center is granted in part and denied in part, as set forth above.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to the District Court. The petition for review must be filed no later than thirty (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 Utah Code Ann. 63-2-404. 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.(5)
Entered this 15th day of April, 2002.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
Cherie Willis, Chairperson
State Records Committee
1. Most of the statutes did not specify the subsections relied on by UTA for protected or private status. At the hearing, counsel for UTA provided additional detail as to the specific subsections in Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302 and -304 that it relied upon in making its classification decisions.
2. These documents are described by UTA as Service Concern Forms, Employee First Report of Injury, Supervisor's Field Notes and Accident/Incident Reports.
3. UTA represented that it provided redacted copies of these letters to the Center.
4. UTA represented that it would provide this information to the Center when it became public and it has apparently done so.
5. This notice is required by Utah Code Ann. 63-2-403(12)(d).