In Trinity Guardrail Case, Whistleblower Awarded $175 Million

Date Published:

In a lawsuit alleging over Trinity’s allegedly defective ET-Plus guardrail systems, a Texas jury awarded $175 million to a whistleblower who roadtripped across the country in order to document injuries and deaths that occurred in relation to this defect. After deliberating for several hours in the U.S. District Court of in Marshall, Texas, jurors found that Trinity defrauded the government when it changed the design of its guardrail systems without informing regulators.

According to Bloomberg, damages will be tripled and the judge overseeing the case will add a penalty. Company lawyers said total liability could reach $1 billion.

The original ET-Plus was crash tested and federally approved. However, the lawsuit alleges that in 2005, Trinity modified the design. Guardrail systems are put in place to mitigate injuries by absorbing impact during a crash. But the new design locks up and can impale oncoming vehicles, the lawsuit alleges. Allegedly, there have been at least a dozen incidents, some fatal, where the modified ET-Plus guardrail spears the car instead of cushioning it.

On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a letter to the FHA citing concerns that it “failed to protect against potentially fatal defects in this product.” Bloomberg reports.

Last month, the Federal Highway Administration asked all states to submit crash information related to the ET-Plus guardrail systems last month. New installations have already been banned in Missouri, Nevada, Massachusetts and Virginia. The state of Virginia gave Trinity a deadline of October 24th to crash-test the revised guardrail so state authorities can determine if it is safe for state roadways.