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Former CATA driver warned not to resurrect lawsuit

CATA’s response was that she was fired for inappropriate conduct that included verbal outbursts against a supervisor and two fellow workers, workplace threats and shutting a bus door on a passenger.
CATA’s response was that she was fired for inappropriate conduct that included verbal outbursts against a supervisor and two fellow workers, workplace threats and shutting a bus door on a passenger. CDT photo

A federal judge has warned a Port Matilda woman that she could face sanctions if she keeps trying to resurrect a nine-year-old lawsuit over her firing as a Centre Area Transportation Authority bus driver.

U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann on Tuesday issued the warning to Billie Jo Richards when he dismissed her latest attempt to change the outcome of the suit she filed in 2008.

Richards does not need to file responses to any further filings in this case unless and until she is directed to do so by the court, he wrote.

“Plaintiff is on notice that further filings in this action will result in sanctions against her,” he said.

Those sanctions could include paying the opposing party’s attorney fees and costs, he said.

Richards, who is now representing herself, has tried three times to alter that judgment since the late Senior Judge James F. McClure Jr. in 2010 granted summary judgment to the authority.

As with the others, Richards claims she has new evidence but Brann found she raised grounds similar to those previously litigated.

“While this court certainly does not intend to chill Richards’ access to the judicial system, her repeated attempts to obtain another bite of the judicial apple further indicates the frivolous nature of the instant motion,” Brann wrote.

Subsequent motions without an objectively “reasonable inquiry as to both facts and law” may result in the imposition of fees and costs, his memorandum states.

Richards was represented by an attorney when she sued the authority in 2008 contending her June 6, 2007, termination was in retaliation for a civil rights complaint she had filed a week earlier.

CATA’s response was that she was fired for inappropriate conduct, which included verbal outbursts against a supervisor and two fellow workers, workplace threats and shutting a bus door on a passenger.

Richards also contended CATA failed to do an adequate investigation into her firing, but McClure disagreed.

He wrote in his order granting summary judgment he failed to see anything in the record indicating the investigative procedures were inadequate.

He also noted a mediator had denied a grievance Richards filed after she was fired, he noted in his opinion.

Brann pointed out the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals twice has affirmed his decisions not to alter judgment because the purported new evidence would not have changed the outcome of the case.

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