Guardrail Manufacturer Slapped with Penalty for Defective Product

Guardrail Manufacturer Halts Sales After $175 Million Defective Product Verdict in Texas

guardrailTrinity Industries has manufactured guardrails that numerous critics have, for years, claimed were defective products. The company was so maligned that 13 states banned the use of the company’s guardrails on their highways after reports that instead of protecting drivers in the event of a serious accident, the guardrails could break or splinter and impale drivers or passengers.

On October 20th, Trinity Industries was slapped with a $175 million verdict by a Texas court, which ruled against the guardrail manufacturer in a whistleblower lawsuit brought forward by Joshua Harman. Harman accused the company of changing the design of their guardrails without informing the Federal Highway Administration, which is responsible for checking the safety of such products. Trinity then sold the modified guardrails, beginning in 2005, to states that received federal funding.

However, the changes to the design of the guardrails made them defective products – rather than stopping cars in a crash, the steel rails could bend and spear drivers or passengers. At least 14 personal injury lawsuits blame the guardrails for severe car crash injuries, including 5 deaths.

“In the fall of 2012, three of [the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’] 21 members responded to a survey about the field performance of guardrail terminals indicating that the end terminals were involved in three severe vehicle crashes that resulted in serious injuries and deaths; two of the three agencies specifically referenced the ET-Plus,” Highway safety watchdog Safety Research & Strategies, of Rehoboth, Mass., claimed in a separately filed complaint. “AASHTO asked FHWA to re-review its approval of the ET-Plus and document the modified barrier system’s crashworthiness under the federal criteria, NCHRP 350. More recently, in January 2014, the Nevada Department of Transportation informed Trinity that its ET-Plus terminal would no longer be considered approved equipment because of the 2005 modification that was not disclosed. Trinity was required to inform the state of the product modifications and failed to do so.”

After the Texas verdict, however, Trinity Industries has finally agreed to halt manufacturing of the defective products and allow federal safety regulators to test their new guardrail design.

“The right thing to do is to stop shipping the product until the additional testing has been completed,” said Gregg Mitchell, the president of Trinity’s highway products subsidiary.

Defective Products Can Lead to Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

The unexpected loss of a loved is a very painful experience.  It leaves family members with sudden expenses such as hospital bills, and funeral costs. If the loss is due to an individual or business’s negligence, the loss can feel even worse. Family members feel like they have nowhere to turn for solace or closure.

A wrongful death lawsuit asserts a claim against a person who can be held legally responsible for a death. The claim is brought in a civil action, usually by relatives.  Common wrongful death claims arise out of personal injury claims caused by accidents including:

While you focus on getting through this tough experience, we will focus on protecting your rights. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed as the result of a defective product, DUI, negligent business, or car accident, you may have a personal injury or wrongful death case. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Do not hesitate to contact us for help. 803.252.4800

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