Are highway guardrails made by Trinity Industries safe?
A guardrail’s main purpose is to protect drivers. Guardrails are installed on highways across the country, and most of the time they do a great job at absorbing impact as well as decreasing a car’s momentum ensuring that the severity of an auto accident is mitigated. Now, a whistleblower has alleged the Trinity Industries Inc., the maker of the guardrails, changed the design of its guardrails (reducing their effectiveness) without alerting the relevant authorities.
Harman vs. Trinity case ruled a mistrial.
A recent case brought forward by Mr. Joshua Harman, whose company once produced guardrails, was ruled as a mistrial by the presiding judge who claimed that there were serious concerns when it came to the truthfulness of a witness involved in the case. U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap claims that the witness was intimidated by the defendant, a Mr. Gregg Mitchell, president of Trinity Industries Inc.
The threatened witness is Mr. Dean Sicking, a University of Alabama at Birmingham professor who allegedly claimed that he was told by Mr. Mitchell that he would smear anyone who testified against him. He also added that Mitchell told him he did not expect to see him standing across the courtroom during the trial.
Judge Gilstrap claims that the trial had had challenges from the beginning arising from issues such as inappropriate conduct, gamesmanship and errors. At the same time, some of the evidence which would have provided vital clues in the case was allegedly deleted by individuals who were tied to the case. The judge sanctioned Harman due to his failure to stop the loss of evidence in the form of email communication between him and Trinity, the company at the center of this legal debacle.
Did Trinity change guardrail designs surreptitiously?
Harman and his attorney claim that Trinity Industries quietly changed the design of its guardrails between 2002 and 2005 without alerting the relevant authorities. He says that the new changes resulted in unsafe guardrails – which instead of absorbing impact and shock during accidents, acted as shivs and giant impalers which could pierce a car’s chassis, causing serious injuries and even death to the car’s occupants.
New trial date.
Harman is suing Trinity on behalf of U.S. taxpayers in one of the largest cases involving a transport infrastructure company and a plaintiff. The judge is seeking to set a new trial date when he meets with both parties on August 18th.