|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
June 23, 1999
Mr. Mark E. Dempsey
Dear Mr. Dempsey:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the, Texas Public Information Act chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 126025.
The City of Garland (the "city") received a request for two particular offense reports. You argue that portions of the information requested are excepted from required public disclosure based on section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with the common-law right to privacy.
Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from required public disclosure information considered to be confidential by law, including information made confidential by judicial decision. This exception applies to information made confidential by the common-law right to privacy. Industrial Found. v. Texas Indus. Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977). Information may be withheld under section 552.101 in conjunction with the common-law right to privacy if the information contains highly intimate or embarrassing facts about a person's private affairs such that its release would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person and the information is of no legitimate concern to the public. See id.
While common-law privacy may protect an individual's medical history, it does not protect all medically related information. See Open Records Decision No. 478 (1987). Individual determinations are required. See Open Records Decision No. 370 (1983). This office has determined that common-law privacy protects the following information: the kinds of prescription drugs a person is taking, Open Records Decision No. 455 (1987); the results of mandatory urine testing, id.; illnesses, operations, and physical handicaps of applicants, id.; the fact that a person attempted suicide, Open Records Decision No. 422 (1984); the names of parents of victims of sudden infant death syndrome, Attorney General Opinion JM-81; and information regarding drug overdoses, acute alcohol intoxication, obstetrical/gynecological illnesses, convulsions/seizures, or emotional/mental distress, Open Records Decision No. 343 (1982).
After review of the information you seek to withhold based on the common-law right to privacy, we conclude that release of the information would not violate the privacy rights of the individual it concerns. However, Report No. W04B0028 raises other concerns.
Section 552.101 also protects information deemed confidential by statute. Section 261.201 of the Family Code reads in part as follows:
(a) The following information is confidential, is not subject to public release under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may be disclosed only for purposes consistent with this code and applicable federal or state law or under rules adopted by an investigating agency:
(1) a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect made under this chapter and the identity of the person making the report; and
(2) except as otherwise provided in this section, the files, reports, records, communications, audiotapes, videotapes, and working papers used or developed in an investigation under this chapter or in providing services as a result of an investigation.
We believe that Report No. W04B0028 is a report, record, and working paper used or developed in an investigation made under chapter 261 of the Family Code. Because you have not cited any specific rule that the Garland Police Department has adopted with regard to the release of this type of information, we assume that no such regulation exists. Given that assumption, the requested information is confidential pursuant to section 261.201 of the Family Code. See Open Records Decision No. 440 at 2 (1986) (construing predecessor statute). Accordingly, you must not release Report No. W04B0028 to the requestor.
We are resolving this matter with this informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and may not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.
Kay H. Hastings
Ref.: ID# 126025
encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Karla Garcia
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US