Trinity Industries Inc., manufacturers of a highway guardrail safety system tied to at least nine deaths, was ordered by a judge to pay $663 million for defrauding the U.S. government.
As reported in The Insurance Journal, the decision on June 8 by U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap in Marshall, Texas, caps a three-year legal battle between Trinity and a small competitor in a case that raised doubts about highway safety across the country. The penalty is $138 million more than that imposed last year in a federal trial in which jurors found that Trinity cheated the government by selling its ET-Plus guardrail system without disclosing changes made in 2005. The company plans to appeal.
“We believe the evidence clearly shows that no fraud was committed,” Jeff Eller, a Trinity spokesman, said in an e-mail after the ruling. “The trial court made significant errors in applying the federal law to the plaintiff’s allegations and, therefore, the judgment is erroneous and should be reversed.”