Former CATA driver loses appeal in federal case

A former Centre Area Transportation Authority bus driver has lost her appeal in an effort to reopen the federal civil case that challenged her firing.

The 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the decision of U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann who had ruled the motion of Billie Jo Richards, of Julian, to reopen her case was not timely.

He also had found the newly discovered evidence presented by Richards would not have changed the decision of another federal judge in 2010 to grant summary judgment to the authority.

Richards, a CATAbus operator from October 1989 to June 2007, claimed she had discovered a male employee had been disciplined differently. Brann found that person was not “similarly situated” because the misconduct was different.

Even if consideration of Richards’ “new evidence” were possible now, she would not prevail, the appeals court opinion states. She never explains when or how she received the evidence she wishes to use or say explicitly it was not provided during discovery, it continues.

Richards also argued the district court judgment should be vacated because CATA perpetrated a fraud on the court. She has come “nowhere near showing the requisite for such relief,” the opinion states.

Before her termination, Richards had been disciplined on several reasons and had been placed on suspension until an investigation into her alleged conduct was completed.

The authority had sought damages and reimbursement of costs for what it claimed was the filing of a frivolous appeal, but that request was denied.