January 13, 2017 — A lawsuit has been filed against a Texas-based guardrail company by the family of a man who was impaled by an ET-Plus Guardrail while driving home from a funeral.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed against Trinity Industries, a Dallas-based company that makes the ET-Plus Guardrail, on November 29, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois (Peoria Division) — Case No. 16-cv-1464.
The horrific and tragic incident occurred on April 9, 2015. Just hours after attending his sister’s funeral, 21 year-old Omar Artis was driving two of his relatives home when, for unknown reasons, he swerved off the road and hit the end of a Trinity ET-Plus Guardrail.
The ET-Plus is a safety feature that is designed to absorb the impact of an oncoming car. The ET-Plus has a U-shaped chute that is supposed to deflect the guardrail harmlessly away from the car.
Instead, the guardrail “penetrated the vehicle through the center grill” into the passenger compartment, where it hit Omar. He died in the hospital the same day. His two passengers suffered minor injuries.
Lawyers accuse Trinity of changing the guardrails to save money on materials sometime around 2005, without telling the U.S. government or conducting necessary crash tests. Critics say those changes made the guardrail more likely to jam up and act like a spear that impales cars.
It is common sense that reducing the size of a U-shaped chute would make the guardrail more likely to jam up. However, crash tests in 2015 concluded that the modified guardrails were not defective. Around 25 lawsuits have been filed on behalf of people who died in gruesome car accidents.
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