October 17, 2014 — Trial attorneys in Marshall, Texas have accused Trinity Industries of intentionally concealing five failed crash tests involving defective guardrails, according to the New York Times.
Trinity is the Texas-based manufacturer of the ET-Plus, a highway guardrail end-terminal that was recently banned in Nevada, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Virginia.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Texas by Joshua Harmon, owner of a competitor guardrail-installing business that was bankrupted after a patent dispute with Trinity.
Lawyers for Trinity say the five crash-tests involved an experimental ET-Plus with a “flared” design that was “never manufactured, sold or installed” on roadways. Therefore, they had no duty to report the tests to federal officials.
Harmon says the crash-tests actually involved the re-designed ET-Plus, which he says is defective. He accuses Trinity of deliberately hiding results of the tests.
About 500,000 of the terminals are installed throughout the United States. In a head-on collision, the terminal is supposed to absorb the impact of the incoming car, flatten the guardrail into a ribbon, and deflect it away from the oncoming car through a feeder chute.
During the patent dispute, Harmon discovered that Trinity re-designed the ET-Plus sometime around 2005 without notifying federal highway authorities. Harmon says the new ET-Plus has a shorter and narrower feeder chute, which is more likely to “throat-lock,” causing the guardrail to act like a spear that impales oncoming cars and passengers.
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