October 27, 2014 — Trinity Industries 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.
Law360 reports that the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) asked Trinity to conduct additional crash-tests. Gregg Mitchell, president of Trinity, stated:
“In light of FHWA’s request, the right thing to do is to stop shipping the product until the additional testing has been completed. We have confidence in the ET-Plus System as designed and crash tested by Texas A&M Transportation Institute.”
The announcement came just days after a jury in Texas found Trinity liable for defrauding the federal government by failing to disclose design changes to the ET-Plus.
The product was originally designed by Texas A&M with a 5-inch feeder chute, which diverted the guardrail away from an oncoming vehicle in a head-on crash. It was thoroughly crash-tested and approved by the FHA in 2000.
During the trial, a whistleblower accused Trinity of concealing five failed crash-tests involving a version of the ET-Plus that was quietly re-designed with a 4-inch feeder chute in 2005, shaving about $2 in materials off a key piece of metal to save $250,000 a year.
The smaller feeder chute could be more likely to jam up, causing the guardrail to buckle and act like a spear that impales oncoming vehicles instead of being deflected harmlessly away.
The whistleblower, Joshua Harman, discovered the changes during a patent dispute in 2011, and filed a lawsuit on behalf of the government in 2012. For the next two years, Trinity insisted the ET-Plus was safe. During this time, at least 14 lawsuits were filed, including five claims of wrongful death and even more injuries.
The states of Arizona, Connecticut, and Louisiana have recently banned further installation of the ET-Plus, in addition to Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Virginia, Vermont, Hawaii, and New Hampshire.
Do I have a Guardrail Accident 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 or a loved one died in a head-on crash with the end of a guardrail, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Accident & Personal Injury Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
Attention Lawyers: We consider a referral from another law firm to be one of the greatest compliments. If your firm is interested in referring us a case or for us to send you a list of previous award judgments and/or average referral fees, please visit the Lawyer Referral section of our website.