January 17, 1996

In re: Edward L. Holley/Cabinet for Human Resources


This matter comes to the Attorney General on appeal from the Cabinet for Human Resources's denial of Mr. Edward L. Holley's open records request to review records relating to the Cabinet's investigation of an allegation of neglect of care of a resident at The King's Daughters and Sons Home, Inc. Mr. Holley is Executive Vice President of that facility.

Ms. Peggy Wallace, Commissioner, Department for Social Services, Cabinet for Human Resources, denied Mr. Holley's request. In support of her denial, Ms. Wallace cited KRS 61.878(1)(l) and KRS 209.140.

KRS 61.878(1)(l) provides:

The following public records are excluded from the application of KRS 61.870 to 61.884 and shall be subject to inspection only upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction, except that no court shall authorize the inspection by any party of any materials pertaining to civil litigation beyond that which is provided by the Rules of Civil Procedure governing pretrial discovery:

(l) Public records or information the disclosure of which is prohibited or restricted or otherwise made confidential by enactment of the General Assembly.

The specific statute or enactment of the General Assembly relied upon by the Cabinet in its letter of denial was KRS 209.140, which provides:

All information obtained by the department [for Social Services] staff or its delegated representative, as a result of an investigation [into suspected adult abuse] made pursuant to this chapter, shall not be divulged to anyone except:

(1) Persons suspected of abuse or neglect or exploitation, provided that in such cases names of informants may be withheld, unless ordered by the court;

(2) Persons within the department or cabinet with a legitimate interest or responsibility related to the case;

(3) Other medical, psychological, or social service agencies, or law enforcement agencies that have a legitimate interest in the case;

(4) Cases where a court orders release of such information; and

(5) The alleged abused or neglected or exploited person.

Specifically, KRS 209.140 prohibits the release of information obtained by the Department for Social Services as a result of an investigation of adult abuse to anyone except, inter alia, persons suspected of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. OAG91-230. KRS 209.140, in tandem with KRS 61.878(1)(l), authorizes the Department to withhold information compiled in the course of an investigation of adult abuse except to certain enumerated classes of individuals.

Ms. Wallace denied the request because Mr. Holley did not fit within any of the exceptions listed in KRS 209.140 which authorizes disclosure. Accordingly, we conclude that the Department's denial on the basis of KRS 61.878(1) and KRS209.140, was proper and thus, consistent with the Open Records Act.

A party aggrieved by this decision may appeal it by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882. Pursuant to KRS61.880(3), the Attorney General should be notified of any action in circuit court, but should not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceeding.






Distributed to:

Peggy Wallace, MSSW


Department for Social Services

Cabinet for Human Resources

275 East Main Street

Frankfort, KY 40621

Edward L. Holley

Executive Vice President

The King's Daughters and Sons Home, Inc.

1705 Stevens Ave.

Louisville, Kentucky 40205