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$663 Million Judgment Issued Against Manufacturer of Defective Guardrails

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.

Defective Guardrail Lawsuits

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 guardrails.
  • 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.