October 29, 2015 — ABC News reports that four families whose loved ones were injured or died in car crashes involving the ET-Plus guardrail have filed lawsuits against the manufacturer, Trinity Industries.
Three of the victims died and a fourth was severely disabled. According to the website of the Dallas attorney who filed the lawsuit, victims include:
- Jose Cruz Diance: Off-duty officer for the LAPD who was driving a Ford F150. When he hit a Trinity guardrail, it pierced his pelvic and groin area and ejected him from the truck.
- Adam Coster: Resident of Virginia who was driving a 2000 Acura Inspire when he hit a Trinity Guardrail. It pierced his car and impaled him. Witnesses found him dead at the scene of the accident.
- Jennifer Penn: Resident of Kentucky who was driving a 1995 Dodge Neon in 2009. Her car slid off the road and and hit the guardrail, which pierced her vehicle and crushed her pelvis, causing severe injuries and her death a few days later.
- Christopher McQuire: Accident in Illinois resulted in Trinity guardrail piercing his car, causing severe but non-fatal injuries to his pelvis, ribs, sternum, lung, kidney, and more.
In June 2015, federal judges hit Trinity with a $663 million penalty for defrauding the government by failing to disclose design changes to the ET-Plus. Those changes, say critics, may the guardrail more likely to impale oncoming cars when it is hit head-on.
The misconduct was brought to light by whistleblower Joshua Harman, a former competitor of Trinity who was put out of business in a patent dispute. During the dispute, Harman discovered that Trinity had reduced the size of the guardrail head, exit gap, and feeder chute, saving about $2 in materials.
Last year, a jury in Texas ordered Trinity to pay $175 million, which tripled to $525 million under state law, plus another $138 million in penalties for “false safety certifications” involving more than 16,000 guardrail systems that were sold throughout the United States. Harman was awarded about a third of the total settlement.
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