Office of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
December 6, 2002
Ms. Pamela Smith
Dear Ms. Smith:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 173272.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (the "department") received a request for "all information pertaining to the medical advisory on [the requestor's] case." You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 12.095 of the Health & Safety Code and the informer's privilege. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section of the Government Code 552.101 excepts from required public disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." This section encompasses information protected by other statutes. Section 12.097 of the Health and Safety Code provides:
(a) All records, reports, and testimony relating to the medical condition of an applicant or license holder:
(1) are for the confidential use of the medical advisory board [of the Texas Health Department], a panel, or the Department of Public Safety of the State of Texas;
(2) are privileged information; and
(3) may not be disclosed to any person or used as evidence in a trial except as provided by Subsection (b).
(b) In a subsequent proceeding under Subchapter N, Chapter 521, Transportation Code,(1) the medical standards division [of the Texas Department of Health] may provide a copy of the report of the medical advisory board or panel and a medical record or report relating to an applicant or license holder to:
(1) the Department of Public Safety of the State of Texas;
(2) the applicant or license holder; and
(3) the officer who presides at the hearing.
Health & Safety Code § 12.097 (footnote in original). The submitted information appears to consist of records relating to the requestor's medical condition. Consequently, we conclude that the department must withhold the submitted information in its entirety pursuant to section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 12.097(a) of the Health and Safety Code. But see Health & Safety Code § 12.097(b) (authorizing Department of Health's medical standards division to release records to, inter alia, license holder in subsequent proceeding under subchapter N, chapter 521, of Transportation Code).(2)
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.
c: Mr. Steven John Heinz
1. V.T.C.A., Transportation Code § 521.291 et seq.
2. As our ruling is dispositive, we do not address your remaining argument.