Trinity Guardrails Remain on Highways Nationwide
A Texas jury found that Trinity Industries defrauded the government by selling an altered guardrail design without notifying the government agency as required by law. Whistleblower Joshua Harman and the federal government were awarded $525 million in the Marshall, Texas lawsuit. Trinity continues to deny responsibility and plans to appeal the decision.
Trinity announced on Friday that it will halt sales of the product until further testing is done. Fortunately, this means no additional guardrails will be installed. However, the guardrails that are currently on our nation’s highways remain a danger to drivers. The government needs to conduct a product recall to replace the defective guardrails with the original safe design to rid our roadways of this peril.
The Minor Change that had a Major Impact
A decade ago, Trinity cut one inch from each end terminal to save the company $2 per unit. Although, one inch sounds minor, in fact, the difference substantially altered the manner in which the guardrails performed during a crash. The original design of the ET-Plus Railhead, approved by the federal government, allowed the end terminal to slide along the railing and push away the metal to absorb the impact of the vehicle collision. The shortened end terminal instead jams up and so the rail acts as a javelin that can pierce the body of the car and its occupants. Numerous auto accident victims have lost their lives or their limbs because of the design change.
Evidence indicates that Trinity knew about the functionality problems caused by the altered design. Yet, the company continued to make and
install these terrifying devices, putting money above lives.
problem would never have come to light had Trinity not sued its
competitor for patent infringement. At the investigative stage of the
patent case, the defendant, whistleblower Joshua Harman, discovered the
altered design and alerted the government. Even with this knowledge, the government continued to purchase Trinity guardrails.
Trinity to Conduct Further Testing
Subsequent to the jury verdict, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) asked
Trinity to conduct more tests of the new guardrail design and threatened to suspend its sales. Trinity “voluntarily” halted sales
of the defective product until the testing is completed. The results of the testing may lead to a total recall of the Trinity guardrails, which would be the right public safety decision.
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