Hope for Safety and Justice in Guardrail Case Involving FHWA and Trinity Industries
The NY Times reports:
“The Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation of the guardrail maker Trinity Industries and is examining the company’s relationship with the Federal Highway Administration, according to people with knowledge of the effort.
At least five potential witnesses, including one former federal highway agency official, have been interviewed in recent weeks by investigators, and at least one grand jury subpoena for documents has been issued, according to the people.
The Justice Department is seeking documents and other records related to a federal whistle-blower case that Trinity lost last October. In that trial, a jury found t he company liable for defrauding the government by failing to disclose design changes to its guardrail, called the ET-Plus.
The changes, made in 2005, are suspected of making the units more likely to jam when hit head-on, causing the metal rail to spear the vehicle. Trinity has said that its failure to disclose the changes was an oversight and that they did not affect the performance of the guardrail. The Justice Department investigation was first reported by Bloomberg News….”
“While the full scope of the criminal investigation remains unclear, federal agents have been gathering information regarding the interactions of Federal Highway Administration officials and Trinity before and after the agency was first made aware, in 2012, of the previously undisclosed changes to the ET-Plus.”
This is what it may take to secure Safety and Justice: Criminal investigations of government officials.
In the Jeep fatal Walden case, NHTSA protected former NHTSA Administrator David Strickland from being deposed by plaintiff attorney Jim Butler.
See the attached denial of a request to depose Mr. Strickland and the attorney’s protest. Such obstruction of safety and justice by DOT must not be allowed to prevail over victims’ rights to information on government actions of life or death importance.