In the Matter of Hassig v. New York State Department of Health

294 A.D.2d 781 (2002)

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In the Matter of Hassig v. New York State Department of Health

New York Court of Appeals
294 A.D.2d 781 (2002)

  • Written by Haley Gintis, JD

Facts

In 1999 Donald L. Hassig (plaintiff) submitted a request to the New York State Department of Health (the department) (defendant) under the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to receive certain reports from the state’s cancer registry. Hassig, as a member of St. Lawrence Environmental Action, requested records concerning cancer diagnoses and deaths for all age groups within particular zip codes to establish a cancer-prevention program. The department denied Hassig’s request on the ground that the records were exempt from disclosure under the state’s Public Health Law and federal legislation pursuant to the National Program of Cancer Registries. The department explained that disclosing the records could lead to the identification of individual cancer patients, particularly children who were the only children diagnosed with cancer in a particular area. Hassig’s administrative appeal was unsuccessful, and he filed an action in a New York trial court against the department for violating the FOIL. The FOIL, which was similar to the federal Freedom of Information Act, mandated certain government disclosures. The trial court dismissed the case. Hassig appealed to the New York Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Crew, J.)

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