Former CATS employee sues bus system over termination, leaked drug test debacle
BATON ROUGE - Former Capital Area Transit System Comptroller John Cutrone filed a lawsuit against the bus system alleging he was retaliated against and fired after notifying CATS administration about several instances involving potential waste and mismanagement.
In January, Cutrone was given a random drug test and failed. His lawyer says the failure was a false positive for methamphetamine.
Cutrone's lawyer, Jill Craft, alleges her client should have never been given a random drug test because he is not in a "safety sensitive position." That is also backed up by two different consultants who were hired by CATS. Those consultants reviewed their policies and confirmed that Cutrone was not eligible for a random test.
The test that was leaked to the WBRZ Investigative Unit last year showed Cutrone failed it, testing positive for methamphetamine.
"Mr. Cutrone's sample was logged in and was not addressed for 12 days," Craft said. "CATS—which I don't think they disclosed to the public—hired two groups of folks to review the Cutrone drug test, and what happened? At least one took the fifth and refused to talk to the consultants. The consultants concluded the drug test was flawed from start to finish."
The reports obtained by WBRZ do confirm that Cutrone should not have been randomly tested, but one consultant noted that "the drug testing records have not been reviewed as part of this inquiry, as they could not be obtained."
"The disclosure of his HIPAA-protected medical information was wrong, and we sued CATS for that," Craft said. "John Cutrone did not authorize that, and he should not have been tested in the first place."
Craft said the retaliation began when Cutrone began noticing discrepancies tied to money. These were reported, and then he was given a drug test.
"When you lay it out on a map and look at the time frame of when things occurred, they almost appear to be a cause and effect," Craft said. "What's going on here?"
Despite some medical professionals calling into question the accuracy of the test, sources told the WBRZ Investigative Unit the lab that performed the drug test is standing behind the results.
"The purpose behind this lawsuit is to clear his name and let the facts of this situation come out publicly," Craft said.
Murphy Foster is representing the Capital Area Transit System. He said, "It's early in the lawsuit process. We are investigating the allegations. We have removed it from state court to federal court because of the nature of the allegations. In the next few weeks we will be filing an answer to the complaint."
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