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.
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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