Last week, a federal judge in Texas levied a $663 million fine on Trinity Industries, the maker of the ET-Plus guardrail. The judgment is the result of a trial last year against Trinity Industries that was brought by a competitor. The lawsuit alleged that Trinity Industries had made a critical change to the ET-Plus guardrail and had failed to notify the Federal Highway Administration.
Failure To Disclose Design Change
The design change made by Trinity altered the end terminal of the guardrail in order to make them cheaper to produce. However, studies have shown that the alteration decreased the performance of the guardrails when vehicles collided with them head on. As a result, they were increasingly likely to cause severe injury or death when impacted.
After hearing the evidence presented at the lengthy trial, the jury found that Trinity Industries was guilty of defrauding the Federal Highway Administration by failing to notify it of the design change and falsely certifying that the ET-Plus guardrail had been accepted by regulators.
Penalties Under False Claims Act
The judge hit Trinity with a $175 million fine, which was tripled to $525 million under the False Claims Act. Trinity was also ordered to pay an additional $138 million in other civil penalties.
Since the trial began, dozens of states have banned the use of the ET-Plus guardrail and at least 14 other lawsuits have been filed that allege the guardrails were responsible for causing injury or death in a car accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a collision with a Trinity ET-Plus guardrail, contact our attorneys today to learn about your legal rights.