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Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail Lawsuit

Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail Lawsuit

A whistleblower lawsuit filed in June 2014 alleges that the manufacturer of the ET-Plus Guardrails changed the design so it acts like a spear instead of bending when hit by a car. Now, a growing number of people who were severely injured in horrific accidents are filing lawsuits.

What You Can Do & How a Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail Lawsuit Can Help

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know was injured by a defective highway 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 us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

UPDATE: Report Calls for Independent Guardrail Crash-Tests

July 25, 2016 — The U.S. government published results of a year-long investigation. They are recommended independent third-party tests for guardrails and faulted the FHWA for allowing labs to crash-test guardrails despite conflicts of interest. Click here to read more.

December 21, 2015 — Virginia has completed a series of crash-tests involving the Trinity ET-Plus and announced that they will replace thousands of guardrails that do not meet safety standards. Click here to read more.

October 29, 2015 — Lawsuits have been filed by the families of three people who died and one person who was injured in head-on crashes with Trinity guardrails. Click here to read more.

October 5, 2015 — A federal judge has ruled that a guardrail injury lawsuit against Trinity Industries can proceed. Click here to read more.

September 21, 2015 — WJHL reports that the controversial ET-Plus guardrail end-terminal will undergo a new series of independent crash tests by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Click here to read more.

May 22, 2015 — Federal highway officials have decided to close a loophole that allowed guardrail-makers to modify and sell new products without conducting new crash-tests. Click here to read more.

April 27, 2015 — More details into the U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal investigation into guardrails made by Trinity Industries have been provided by the New York Times. Click here to read more.

April 22, 2015 — The corruption and special prosecutions unit of the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation involving the Trinity ET-Plus guardrail. Click here to read more.

April 16, 2015 — A lawsuit was been filed on behalf of a man who was impaled by a controversial guardrail and died in a horrific accident last year. Click here to read more.

March 16, 2015 — After a massive political lobbying blitz, Trinity Industries’ ET-Plus guardrail has passed all eight crash tests, despite severely damaging the driver’s door in one of the tests. Click here to read more.

February 4, 2015 — The last crash-test involving Trinity Industries’ ET-Plus guardrail may have been a failure. Click here to read more.

January 28, 2015 — The first eight safety tests involving the Trinity ET-Plus guardrail are complete, with no word yet on the results of the tests. Click here to read more.

January 19, 2015 — Two senators have raised concern that safety tests of the ET-Plus guardrail do not meet current standards and will ignore vulnerability at certain impact-angles. Click here to read more.

January 8, 2015 — Safety tests involving a guardrail resumed yesterday in San Antonio, Texas, where a producer for local news KSAT observed the fourth out of eight tests. Click here to read more.

December 30, 2014 — Kansas and Missouri joined 40 states in banning further installations of the ET-Plus, removing it from their list of approved highway products until safety tests prove it is not defective. Click here to read more.

December 17, 2014 — As safety tests continue this week, the New York Times has reported that half of the guardrails being tested differ from those actually installed on the road. Out of the eight guardrails being tested in Texas, four have an exit gap of 1.25-inches, making them 25% wider than many of the guardrails on American roads. Click here to read more.

December 15, 2014 — The attorney general in Virginia has filed a lawsuit against Trinity Industries, seeking reimbursement for the cost of removing and replacing thousands of highway guardrails if crash-tests find them to be defective. Click here to read more.

December 4, 2014 — Members of the media will be barred from observing or recording a series of federally-mandated crash-tests involving the ET-Plus guardrail. Click here to read more.

November 13, 2014 —  Trinity Industries will start crash-testing the ET-Plus guardrail next week in San Antonio, Texas, with a former business partner. Tests should run until January 2015. Click here to read more.

November 7, 2014 — Trinity Industries has narrowly avoided a federal ban on the ET-Plus guardrail after promising to conduct new safety tests. Click here to read more.

November 6, 2014 — The death of a 24 year-old San Francisco man has been blamed on a defective ET-Plus guardrail that failed to absorb the impact of his vehicle in a head-on collision. Click here to read more.

October 28, 2014 — Virginia has become the first state to start removing tens of thousands of potentially defective guardrails from their highways. Click here to read more.

October 27, 2014 — Trinity will stop shipments of its ET-Plus highway guardrail systems until more crash-testing determines whether the “safety feature” can actually impale vehicles in a head-on guardrail accident. Click here to read more.

October 24, 2014 — Mississippi and Oregon have joined a growing list of states banning further installation of the Trinity ET-Plus guardrail, pending investigations into design changes that may have compromised safety. Click here to read more.

October 21, 2014 — A jury in Texas has found that Trinity Industries defrauded the federal government by concealing design changes on its highway guardrails. The company may have to pay up to $1 billion in damages, on top of potential liability in at least 9 personal injury and wrongful death claims. Click here to read more.

October 15, 2014 — Amid growing safety concerns, the states of Missouri, Nevada, Virginia and Massachusetts have stopped further installation of the ET-Plus Guardrail. Click here to read more.

How Does the ET-Plus Guardrail Work?

The ET-Plus is an “energy-absorbing” guardrail end-terminal. It consists of an impact plate, guide channels, and an extruder head. When a car hits the impact plate, the ET-Plus slides along the guide channels and feeds the guardrail through the extruder head. The guardrail flattens into a ribbon and is deflected harmlessly away from the oncoming car.

What is the problem?

A whistleblower lawsuit (PDF) alleges that Trinity quietly re-designed the ET-Plus in 2005, reducing the size of the feeder channel in a way that makes the guardrail more likely to get stuck. When this happens, the guardrail can buckle, break, and act like a deadly spear that impales oncoming cars.

The width of the extruder was reduced from five inches to four inches. The feeder channel height was reduced from 15-3/8 inches to 14-7/8 inches.

According to the complaint:

“Once throat locked, the energy of the crash is diverted elsewhere usually causing the guardrail to double over on itself or protrude through the crashing vehicle. If the guardrail and head assembly protrude like a spear through the vehicle, the inevitable result is usually death or serious bodily injury to the persons in the vehicle.”

Safety officials with the federal highway system say they were not aware that the design of the ET-Plus was changed until after the lawsuit was filed in March 2012. It is now pending in federal court in Texas.

Trinity has filed a defamation lawsuit against the whistleblower, Josh Harman, and says the lawsuit was filed out of spite. Harman was involved in a patent dispute with Trinity that cost him $12 million and sent his guardrail-installing business into bankruptcy, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Crash-Tests Show Guardrail Damaging Vehicle

In early 2015, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) completed a series of eight crash-tests involving the ET-Plus.  The following is a video of the eighth and final crash-test, which appears to show the guardrail jamming up and penetrating into the side of the car. The guardrail severely damaged the door of the car and likely would have injured a passenger, but got a “passing” grade.

ET-Plus Linked to Tripled Risk of Death

Last month, researchers at the University of Alabama published a study suggesting the ET-Plus is 36% more likely to cause injuries and 3-times as likely to cause death compared to the ET-2000. Conclusions were based on 8 years of crash data from Ohio and Missouri and compared five different guardrail end-terminal models.

Guardrail Injury Lawsuits

Nationwide, lawsuits have been filed on behalf of at least nine people who were injured or died when guardrails punctured their cars in an accident. Some of these injuries were described by ABC15:

  • In Tennessee, a 39 year-old woman who crashed into an end terminal died from severe organ damage and bleeding after the guardrail punctured her car and went through her torso.
  • In New York, a 20 year-old woman lost her right leg after a guardrail penetrated her driver’s side door in an accident in January 2010.
  • In Florida, a 20 year-old man was a passenger in a vehicle that swerved off the road. He had to have his left leg amputated below the knee after a guardrail punctured his vehicle.

Highway Guardrail Class Action Lawsuit

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is nationally recognized as a class action law firm, but we are not filing a guardrail class action. Instead, we are focusing on individual lawsuits for people who were injured or family members of those who died in head-on collisions with defective guardrail end-terminals.

Do I have a Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail Lawsuit?

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know was injured by a defective highway 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 us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

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Free Case Evaluation

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading plaintiff’s law firms and handles cases in all 50 states. We are very proud of our legal achievements, but equally self-respecting of our firms reputation for providing personal attention to each and every client we represent.

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