By: Allan M. Siegel
Last week, a Texas federal judge issued a $663.4 million judgment against
Trinity Industries for changing the design of its guardrails without permission
of the federal government and selling defective guardrails that have been
associated with multiple injuries and deaths. The False Claims Act lawsuit
was filed by a whistleblower who stepped forward to expose the wrongdoings
of the guardrail manufacturer.
Here are some details about the case and last week’s judgment:
- The guardrails in question - known as ET-Plus guardrails - contain a dangerous
design defect that can cause the guardrail to lock up and malfunction.
When this happens, the guardrails remain rigid rather than absorbing the
impact of a crash and giving way. ET-Plus guardrails have been associated
with injuries and fatalities involving vehicle cabins being impaled.
- Last year, a federal jury in Texas issued a $175 million verdict against
Trinity Industries for modifying guardrails it sold for use on federal
highways and not disclosing those modifications to the federal government.
The lawsuit also alleged that Trinity did not properly test the modified
- Last week, a federal judge tripled the $175 million verdict to $525 million
and added an additional $138 million in civil penalties for defrauding
the U.S. government.
- Joshua Harman - the whistleblower who brought the lawsuit against the company
under the False Claims Act - was awarded $199 million (30% of the judgment)
for helping expose the fraud.
The lawsuit - which has made national headlines for its substantial judgment
and whistleblower award - now becomes the supporting pillar needed to
bolster product liability claims filed by victims and families seeking
compensation for damages allegedly caused by ET-Plus guardrails. These
plaintiffs are now more likely to recover the compensation they deserve.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we believe this judgment
helps highlight the power of
whistleblower claims and the importance of
product liability laws. As a firm that has been helping injured clients of the DC metro
area for over 40 years, we are familiar with both of these types of lawsuits,
and offer our support and services to anyone who wants more information.
If you have questions about guardrail defects, defective products, or whistleblower claims,
contact our firm for a free and confidential consultation.