Trinity Industries’ Guardrail Failure

On June 9, 2015, Trinity Industries was assessed more than $138 million in penalties and a Texas federal judge trippled a $175 million False Claims Act verdict against the company. Trinity Industries had previously been found guilty of knowingly selling defective guardrails to the U.S. government back in October of 2014.

This recent final judgment was delivered by U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, which also included a $199 million awarded to whistleblower, Joshua Harman, in conjunction with the $663.4 million. Harman was awarded $218 million, which included 30 percent commission along with more than $2.3 million in expenses, $15 million in attorneys’ fees, and $177,830 in taxable costs. The amount awarded was based on the fact that the U.S. did not participate in the trial and left the defense solely to the whistleblower.

According to Harman, the guardrail device’s original design, which had previously been approved by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 2000, was changed sometime between 2002 and 2005, unbeknownst FHWA.

Harman has stated that the new changes that caused the device to fold over into crashing vehicles were deliberately hidden from the FHWA. In 2005, the FHWA partially approved the device, however, it is unclear whether the current version or the originally approved version was used for testing.

If you have recently been involved in an accident involving faulty guardrails, or have any information regarding Trinity Industries’s case, please contact Caputo and Mariotti today.


The Dangers of Takata Air Bags

The dangers of air bags made by Takata Corp. are evident, and U.S. Government officials are alerting drivers with warnings declaring them unsafe. According to reports, the Takata air bags violently explode and can seriously injure or kill passengers sitting in the front seat of the vehicles in which they are being utilized.

The Takata air bags have being causing a considerable amount of injuries over the last several years. Experts believe that the defect is directly linked to the bags’ inflator systems, which cause material to be projected into the vehicle, causing immediate harm to its inhabitants. This shrapnel consists of sharp and dangerous metal pieces that have been known to cause several external and internal damage to vehicle occupants.

Not only are the Takata air bags extremely dangerous, they are also overly sensitive and have regularly gone off even during the smallest fender benders. The air bags made by the Tokyo based company are considered to be a serious danger to all passengers in the vehicles in which they are installed including Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, and General Motors.

If you believe you have been the victim of an accident involving faulty air bags manufactured by the Takata Corp., please reach out to Caputo and Mariotti today to review your options.


Daylight Savings Time Connected to Rise in Crashes

If you are one of the billions of people located all over the world who observe daylight savings time, recent research has demonstrated that the time change may have a significant impact on your health. People have considered whether moving clocks ahead is really beneficial for the public as a whole for many years.

There are, of course, clear benefits to moving the clock ahead. The extra daylight gives people more incentive to exercise after work if they choose to do so, and also saves on electricity, cuts back on crime, and decreases the number of traffic fatalities. However, some of the research available contradicts several of these claims. Opponents argue that there are health risks potentially associated with turning the clocks ahead, including those associated with lack of sleep and increase in heart attacks.

One of these researchers, a PhD candidate named Austin Smith, studied the national data on fatal car crashes that occurred between the years of 2002 and 2011 and made a presentation regarding his information at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association. His research was to determine what really happens immediately after people reset their clocks in both the spring and the fall.

Smith compared the number of accidents that happened immediately before and after these time changes were made on each of the years mentioned as well as daylight savings changes that took place in some years but not in others.

Smith’s resulted showed that the number of accidents increased by six percent during the spring time change, but there was no increase whatsoever during the fall time change. The six percent increase affected six of the days following the actual time adjustment. For a variety of reasons, Smith believes that the increase in crashes is a direct result of drivers losing one hour of sleep and how there bodies deal with the time adjustment.

If you’ve believe you’ve been involved in an accident that may have resulted do to lack of sleep from daylight savings time, don’t hesitate to give Caputo and Mariotti a call today to arrange a free consultation.


U.S. Trial Orders Toyota Payout of $11 Million

Toyota Motor Corporation was ordered to pay almost $11 Million on February 3rd by a jury that found a fatal crash in Minnesota back in 2006 was caused by a defect in the vehicle’s accelerator. The vehicle involved in the accident was a 1996 Toyota Camry. The jury found that the vehicles driver, to be 40 percent liable for the accident and the remaining 60% of fault was placed on the Toyota Company.

During the accident, the vehicle’s breaks failed to work properly. The defect in the accelerator caused it to become stuck while the vehicle was in operation, and was the main cause of the crash. According to Toyota Motor Corporation, the driver of the vehicle was the one at fault and not the defective accelerator. The vehicle in question had not been included in the over 10 million vehicles recalled by Toyota between 2009 and 2010. The vehicles recalled during this time were experiencing unexpected and sudden acceleration problems.

If you believe you or someone you know has been seriously injured due to an accelerator defect in a Toyota vehicle or any other type of vehicle, contact Caputo and Mariotti today to arrange your free consultation.


Trinity Industries Inc. Guardrails Causing Injuries

An appeal by Trinity Industries Inc. has been denied by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in their effort to eliminate a lower court’s $175 million judgment in a False Claims Act suit made against the company for selling the U.S. Federal Highway Administration dangerous guardrails.

The original FCA complaint was filed in 2012, claiming that Trinity had falsely stated that its modified ET-Plus guardrail was adequately crash-tested. The first ET-Plus was created to absorb and dissipate the impact of a car by flattening the guardrail and pushing it out into a ribbon that is deflected away from the collision. This reduces the impact that passengers experience inside the vehicle.

The original design was approved by the FHWA in 2000, but statements have been made that the company changed the guardrail’s design at some point between 2002 and 2005. The issue with the new design is that it locks up, folds over and protrudes in the crashing vehicle. According to several reports, these changes were never disclosed to the FHWA. The new guardrails were also not tested according to the FHWA protocols.

The FHWA did partially approve the guardrails after a 2005 crash test, but it is not clear whether Trinity used the new ET-Plus for that particular test. This obviously further complicates the current situation.

If you believe you’ve been affected by defective guardrails in anyway, please feel free to reach out to Caputo and Mariotti today to schedule a free consultation.


Air Bags Cause 8 Million Car Recall

Of the 8 million cars recalled in the last two years, recent information shows that Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., and other major automakers have only fixed a fraction of the defective Takata Corp. air bags. According to Bloomberg News, only 6 percent of the affected vehicles recalled by nine carmakers have been repaired.

The 6 percent repair calculation by Bloombeg was based on numbers provided to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Two of the companies that have confided that less than 6 percent of the vehicles have been repaired are Toyota and Honda, both of which have the highest number of recalls.

Although millions of car owners are affected by the recall, only a small percentage of people have actually brought their vehicles in for repair. These people are clearly at a higher risk of injury or possible death.

The defective parts inside the air bag were metal components. These components are being shot at passengers, injuring or killing motorists. The faulty air bags have caused the deaths of six individuals in the U.S. and one individual in Malaysia.

If you believe that you are the owner of a vehicle or have been involved in an accident related to a vehicle with faulty air bags, contact Caputo and Mariotti today to set up your free consultative.


Admission by GM of Ignition Switch Defect

On November 24, 2014, General Motors admitted that a crash involving a 2004 Saturn Ion led a judge to reverse the conviction of a woman driving the vehicle. This individual was initially accused of killing her fiance who had been riding in the passenger side of the vehicle. The woman, who had been driving under the influence, veered off the road and crashed into a tree.

Upon crashing, the vehicle’s air bags did not deploy, leaving the driver seriously injured and killing the passenger. This is the first admission by General Motors that the defective ignition switch was the direct cause of death for any individual.

Unfortunately, although General Motors did admit fault in this particular incident, there are thousands of other individuals who have been injured and hundreds who have been killed.

By law, General Motors was obligated to inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the safety defect within five business days of it’s discovery, but neglected to do so. For that matter, GM denied on several occasions that the company was aware of the defect before the February recall.

There have been over 17 million vehicles recalled due to GM’s defective ignition switch. This particular instance has been deemed one of the most massive cover-ups made by an automaker in history.

If you have a vehicle that could potentially be impacted by the GM ignition switch defect, it is extremely important that you are aware that you may experience loss of power leaving you unable to control the vehicle. This can result in serious accidents. For more information about the General Motors ignition switch defect, or if you believe you are the victim of the GM cover-up, contact Caputo and Mariotti today for a free consultation.


General Motors Massive Cover-Up

Recent information has made it very clear that GM enacted a massive cover up regarding the defect that initially caused the death of Brooke Melton. Melton was killed while driving her Chevy Colbalt in a crash back in 2010.

The known ignition switch problem can be traced back to a string of emails that were sent internally between December of 2013 and February of 2014, which was a time prior to the company recall. It has been determined that this particular instance is one of the most massive cover-ups of a known safety related design defect by an automaker, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.

It was discovered that General Motors was fully aware of test failures as well as real world failures involving highway crashes, but they did not report their findings to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nor did GM make any recalls on the vehicles with the defect.

Auto manufacturers need to inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration within five business days of discovering a safety defect, according to current regulations. Although GM has denied having knowledge of the defect before the recall, evidence shows that it’s clearly not the case. The company has yet to admit willful neglect, pushing the blame to defective corporate infrastructure and company incompetence.

The defective ignition switches create a dangerous situation in which the driver is unable to control the vehicle which has been left without power due to the ignition switch problem. Over three hundred individuals have been killed in the eleven years prior to the GM recall.

If you or anyone in your family is a victim of General Motors faulty ignition switch, please contact Caputo and Mariotti today for a free consultation. We’re here to answer any questions you may have.


Jury Verdict Against Ford

A Nevada jury returned a $4.5 million verdict against Ford Motor Co. because the vehicle design had a defect in the roof which caused the death of a passenger involved in a singe-vehicle rollover accident.

The passenger died after suffering a broken neck in the accident which occurred in 2009, when the vehicle suddenly flipped over while towing a trailer.  The victim’s broken neck caused his death when the vehicle’s weight crushed the roof onto his head.  According to Ford the death was not the result of a defect in the roof’s design, but simply a result of the accident that had occurred.

The Plaintiff argues that Ford had been acting irresponsibly in the vehicle’s design which was proven by presenting evidence that Ford did not adequately test the Excurion’s ability or the degree of roof support should the vehicle experience a rollover accident.  Ford supported their claim that the roof’s design was not defective and that the company did no behave irresponsibly.

If you have had an unfortunate accident and have questions regarding vehicle safety standards and design, please contact Caputo and Mariotti today. We look forward to answering your questions and will fight to protect you and your family against potential faulty vehicle design.


Tractor Trailer Accidents Can Be Prevented

Many cases involving Tractor trailers and large trucks are caused by such things as driver fatigue, excessive speed and inattention to road conditions.  Others causes have been the result of a companies’ improper hiring and inadequate training of drivers. Tractor trailer drivers operate extremely large vehicles that have the capability to cause a great deal of harm to others on the highways. Drivers, as well as the companies that employ them, have to follow regulations that other drivers don’t have to follow. As a result, commercial drivers receive training that the rest of the general public does not have. Therefore, commercial drivers have a greater obligation to safety than other drivers on the highways throughout the country.

Establishing fault in an accident when a truck driver runs a red light or rear-ends a vehicle that is legally stopped isn’t all that difficult in most cases. But difficult issues can be involved even in those cases. It may be necessary to find out exactly why the driver wasn’t operating the vehicle responsibly and safely. The trucking company’s conduct, when it comes to the hiring and training of drivers, can also be involved. Many trucking accidents can be avoided, saving many lives simply by having a trained commercial driver behind the wheel of 18-wheelers on the road.

If you need more information on any aspect of truck litigation, contact Caputo and Mariotti today.