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Guardrail Manufacturer Found Guilty of Defrauding US

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Jarod Cassidy3 years ago

A federal jury has found Trinity Industries Inc. guilty of defrauding the United States government for failing to properly report changes made to its guardrail systems. A recent study suggests those changes resulted in increased fatality rates.

About the Federal Lawsuit

Denver’s ABC 7 reports that the Dallas-based company has been ordered to pay $525 million in damages to the U.S. government in connection with a whistleblower lawsuit filed against the company.

In the lawsuit, Josh Harman, a former industry business owner, claimed that Trinity had reduced the size of a metal piece used in the energy-absorbing cap placed on the end of the guardrails. Internal document showed that the company was able to save $50,000 a year by doing so. Trinity never informed the government that these changes had been made.

The jury ruled Monday that Trinity’s violations had resulted in the U.S. government incurring $175 million in damages; however, under the False Claims Act, the damages awarded were tripled resulting in the $252 million verdict.

Second Lawsuit Claims Changes Resulted in At Least 4 Deaths

A second lawsuit has been filed by individuals who were injured or lost loved ones in accidents involving the modified guardrails. The lawsuit claims that the altercations made to the guardrails are responsible for at least four deaths and 10 injuries.

A study of the modified guardrails, the ET-Plus, found that the system was 1.36 times more likely to produce severe injuries and 2.86 times more likely to result in death than the previous model manufactured by Trinity, the ET-2000.

The guardrails have been installed in all 50 states. An ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Federal Highway Administration.


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