The Justice Department has yet to comment on the investigation, which was first reported last week by Bloomberg.
It marks the latest chapter of a saga that began in 2012, when a whistleblower accused Trinity of modifying the design of the ET-Plus end-terminal in 2005 without telling the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The whistleblower said those design changes reduced the size of the ET-Plus, which could have made the guardrail more likely to jam up, buckle, and impale oncoming cars like a spear instead of deflecting away. At least eight deaths are blamed on the problem, plus many more horrific amputations and injuries.
According to the Times, the Justice Department has issued at least one grand jury subpoena for documents related to that whistleblower lawsuit, which ended last October in a $175 million jury verdict against Trinity.
Investigators have also interviewed at least five potential witnesses, including a former official at the FHWA. They are looking into Trinity’s relationship with the FHWA, specifically asking about one official — Nicholas Artimovich — a senior engineer whose concerns about the ET-Plus were ignored.
In February 2012, Artimovich wrote “There does seem to be a valid question over the field performance,” and it was “hard to ignore the fatal results,” but the FHWA never investigated.
Earlier this year, the FHWA said the modified ET-Plus passed a series of eight crash-tests. However, in the eighth test, the ET-Plus buckled behind the end-terminal, bent into a sharp elbow, severely damaged the door of the vehicle, and likely would have injured a driver.
Do I have a Guardrail Injury Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting guardrail induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured in a head-on crash with a Trinity ET-Plus guardrail, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Product Liability Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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