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Office of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
GREG ABBOTT
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December 5, 2002

Ms. Karmen Binka
Assistant City Attorney
City of San Antonio
P.O. Box 839966
San Antonio, Texas 78283-3966

OR2002-6927

Dear Ms. Binka:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 173129.

The Metropolitan Health District of the City of San Antonio (the "city") received a request for all records relating to the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort over the last sixty days. You advise that you have released some of the requested information. You claim that the remaining requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 81.046 of the Health and Safety Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision. See Gov't Code 552.101. Section 552.101 encompasses information that is protected from disclosure by other statutes. You argue that the information submitted as Attachment III may not be released pursuant to section 81.046 of the Health and Safety Code. Section 81.046 provides in pertinent part:

(a) Reports, records, and information furnished to a health authority or the department that relate to cases or suspected cases of diseases or health conditions are confidential and may be used only for the purposes of this chapter.

(b) Reports, records, and information relating to cases or suspected cases of diseases or health conditions are not public information under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may not be released or made public on subpoena or otherwise except as provided by Subsection (c) and (d).

Health & Safety Code 81.046(a), (b). In Open Records Decision No. 577 (1990), this office concluded that any information acquired or created during an investigation under chapter 81 is confidential and may not be released unless an exception set out in the statute applies. You claim that section 81.046 prohibits the release of the information at issue. Based on our review of the information, we find that it consists of records relating to cases or suspected cases of diseases or health conditions, and therefore, that the information in its entirety falls within the scope of section 81.046. You also represent that none of the release provisions of section 81.046 apply in this instance. Accordingly, we conclude that the city must withhold Attachment III pursuant to section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 81.046 of the Health and Safety Code.

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408,411 (Tex. App.--Austin 1992, no writ).

Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to Hadassah Schloss at the Texas Building and Procurement Commission at 512/475-2497.

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. We note that a third party may challenge this ruling by filing suit seeking to withhold information from a requestor. Gov't Code 552.325. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,

Kristen Bates
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division
KAB/seg
Ref: ID# 173129
Enc. Submitted documents

c: Ms. Stacey Benson
Connolly & Castagna, L.L.P.
4611 Bee Cave Road, Suite 201
Austin, Texas 78746
(w/o enclosures)


 

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