Appeals court gives cop denied state certification another chance in court

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An injured police officer whose recertification was denied by the state because he was taking a narcotic pain medication will get a second chance in court after a decision today by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Richard McDonald, a former Pittsburgh officer and agent for the state attorney general, was offered the post of Ellwood City police chief in 2007. A doctor found Mr. McDonald capable of doing the job.

But he was denied recertification by the state Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission because test results were misinterpreted and because he was prescribed Avinza for back pain from an accident.

He sued in 2009. U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry dismissed the case.

The appeals court remanded part of that dismissal, saying Judge McVerry erred in finding that the commission was not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Rehabilitation Act.

The case will go back to Judge McVerry for reconsideration of the dismissal.

"We're very pleased that the court of appeals has reversed the court's decision," said Timothy P. O'Brien, Mr. McDonald's attorney. "Despite the fact that this man has an exemplary record as a police officer ... he's not been able to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" because of the commission's decision not to recertify him.

breaking - region - neigh_north

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. First Published June 25, 2012 4:15 PM


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