Judgement Against Trinity Industries (and DOT FHWA)
When DOT fails to protect us, we all pay in more ways than one.
“WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Marshall has ordered Dallas-based Trinity Industries to pay $683 million in a whistleblower case that accused the company of defrauding the U.S. government.
Trinity said it plans to appeal the order by U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap.
“The company believes the evidence clearly shows that no fraud was committed,” Trinity said in a statement Tuesday evening. “The judgment is erroneous and should be reversed in its entirety.”
Gilstrap’s judgment caps a 2012 suit brought under the federal False Claims Act by whistleblower Joshua Harman, a former competitor of Trinity’s. Harman alleged that Trinity committed fraud when it continued to sell its popular guardrail system, known as ET-Plus, after making small changes to its design without first telling the Federal Highway Administration.
In October, a seven-member federal jury in Marshall agreed. It pegged the damages to the highway agency to be $175 million.
The statute automatically triples those damages when a whistleblower proves his or her case. Gilstrap also fined Trinity $138.4 million. Each of its more than 16,000 transactions involving the guardrails carried a fine of $8,250.
In addition, he ordered the company to pay nearly $20 million to cover Harman’s legal fees and costs.
The FHWA refused to join Harman’s suit, and said in a statement after it was filed that even though it should have been told of the changes, the changes Trinity made to the guardrails were not big enough to have caused the agency to stop reimbursing states that bought them.
That resistance will cost the U.S. government plenty. Because the FHWA had refused to back Harman’s claims, he’ll get to keep 30 percent of the total, or $199 million.” See