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.

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