Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog

$175 Million Verdict Based On Alleged Defective and Dangerous Highway Guardrails

$175 Million Verdict Based On Alleged Defective and Dangerous Highway Guardrails

On October 19, 2014, a federal jury in Texas found that Trinity Industries defrauded the U.S. government of $175 million by not reporting its new highway guardrail design changes to the Federal Highway Administration as required by law. As noted by the New York Times, the Texas jury awarded $525 million (the $175 million tripled under federal law) to the United States Treasury, making the verdict the third largest jury award in the U.S. this year.

Missouri, Nevada, and Massachusetts have put on hold purchases and installations of the Trinity ET-Plus system guardrails due to concerns that the guardrails are actually dangerous. As reported by the New York Times, the guardrails have allegedly contributed to at least 14 accidents, resulting in five deaths and multiple injuries.

Dallas-based Trinity Industries developed the first version of its ET-Plus guardrails back in 1999. The company redesigned the ET-Plus guardrail in 2005 in order to save on manufacturing costs.

The 2005 change involved Trinity Industries decreasing the width and height of the end terminal of the guardrail. This reduction in end terminal size allegedly causes this common highway safety device to perform incorrectly, resulting in the guardrail spearing through vehicle walls and killing or injuring drivers and/or passengers.

Bloomberg News has reported that guardrail manufacturer Trinity Industries’ total liability for these allegedly defective rails could potentially reach $1 billion. In the wake of the verdict, Trinity Industries’ stock price plummeted almost 13 percent, making it "the biggest one-day drop in more than five years."

Contact National Plaintiff Injury Attorneys

If you or a family member have been injured in a guardrail accident, we invite you to contact a personal injury attorney at Lieff Cabraser for a free, no-obligation review of your case.

By Fabrice Vincent.