In a landmark case with a record setting award, jurors in Texas found Trinity Industries, Inc., one of the country’s largest guardrail manufacturers, liable for committing fraud in Texas.
In 2012, Josh Harman filed a lawsuit under the False Claims Act against Dallas-based Trinity Industries Inc. In the whistleblower lawsuit, Harman argued that the company’s design of widely used highway guardrails such as the ET-Plus model, caused serious and sometimes fatal accidents.
At the heart of the case was a claim that the design change implemented by Trinity in 2005 to its guardrails caused the system to fail and the company failed to disclose this dangerous defect to federal and state safety regulators for seven years.
The jury awarded $175 million that will ultimately be tripled to $525 million. The United States will get the bulk of the money, but Harman will receive a percentage of the award up to 25%.
The case is not entirely over yet. Trinity continues to deny any and all wrongdoing and has vowed to appeal the jury verdict.
The Federal Highway Administration, a sub-unit of the U.S. Department of Transportation, gave Trinity an Oct. 31, 2014 deadline to explain how the company will complete the safety tests of its guardrails. In light of the jury award, the company’s newly redesigned guardrails will have to pass stringent testing requirements with extensive oversight.
Officials are requesting that they be allowed to watch the company conduct the tests in addition to seeking extensive oversight of the testing process.
Federal officials have already announced that the company that originally conducted the tests, Texas A&M Transportation Institute cannot conduct the tests. It is unclear who will be permitted to conduct the tests.
The Arnold Law Firm’s experienced qui tam lawyers in Sacramento have decades of experience fighting government fraud by helping whistleblowers assert all of their legal rights under state and federal fraud protection statutes.
If you or someone you know is aware of government fraud, talk to our firm to determine your options. Call us at (916) 924-3100.
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