After a jury found in October 2014 in favor of whistleblower Josh Harman in his action against Trinity Industries for making a critical change in its guardrail and then failing to tell Federal regulators leading to the jury finding a $175 million verdict under the False Claims Act. On June 10, 2015, Texas federal Judge Rodney Gilstrap handed down a $663 million judgment against Trinity Industries, adding civil penalties of $138 million and 19 million in attorneys fees and costs. The $138 million amounted to $8,250 for each of 16,771 false certifications made to the government and other entities to get payment for its guardrails. In his decision, Judge Gilstrap wrote that the plaintiffs had “introduced substantial evidence” showing that Trinity “made the decision to modify the ET-Plus, conceal such modifications, and falsely certify that the ET-Plus units had been accepted” by the highway agency.
Mr. Harman, who brought the case on behalf of the federal government, was awarded 30 percent of the award, or about $199 million, given, the judge wrote, “that the U.S. government opted not to participate in the trial of this case and left the full burden” on the whistle-blower.
Click here to read the full New York Times article: $663 Million in Penalties for Maker of Guardrail
According to the NY Times report of April 23, 2015, “A prosecutor in Washington with the Justice Department’s criminal fraud division is involved in the investigation, as are special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General is working with Justice Department officials as well, according to the people with knowledge of the inquiry.”
In December 2014, the State of Virginia filed an action against, “Trinity Industries and Trinity Highway Products, LLC for selling the Commonwealth of Virginia thousands of unapproved, improperly tested, and potentially dangerous pieces of highway guardrail equipment. In a complaint filed in Richmond Circuit Court, the Commonwealth seeks civil penalties and recovery of costs if necessary and appropriate testing and analysis shows the products to be unsafe and replacement is necessary. Click here to read the announcement.
This office presently represents a then 18-year-old young man who suffered horrific burns in Contra Costa County when the vehicle he was riding in struck the end of the guardrail and was redirected down a hillside into another collision that horribly burned his entire body. We are in extensive discovery against Trinity at this time. If you wish any information about litigating a case involving this guardrail system, please contact Thomas Brandi at [email protected] or call 800-481-1615.
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