Trinity Industries Awaits Court Ruling on Guardrail PenaltyDennis Robertson and Patrick G. Lee
A Texas federal judge said he would rule “as soon as possible” on how much Trinity Industries Inc. must pay after a jury found that the company defrauded the U.S. government by failing to inform regulators of changes to its roadside guardrail system.
The whistle-blower in the false-claims lawsuit, who would get a share of the government’s recovery, is asking for a judgment of $709 million, plus $19 million in lawyers’ fees, expenses and costs. The Dallas-based company has said in court filings that those amounts are excessive and that “no judgment against Trinity is proper.”
In October, Trinity was found liable for fraud by a Marshall, Texas, federal jury for failing to disclose product changes that the whistle-blower claims rendered its guardrails dangerous. The company has said it plans to appeal the verdict.
Both parties are in court-ordered mediation to try to reach a settlement.
Since the Texas verdict, more lawsuits have been filed against Trinity, including proposed class actions by counties in Illinois, a county in Wisconsin and a city in Ontario. The Canadian lawsuit seeks C$500 million ($400 million) in damages from Trinity for failing to disclose the allegedly dangerous product changes.
Jeff Eller, a Trinity spokesman, declined to comment on specific lawsuits. Eller has said before that the company takes “any lawsuit against us seriously and will respond in the appropriate manner.”