FHWA Official Claims Trinity Guardrails Were Safe Amid Suspicions
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on Nov 06, 2014 in Car Accidents
Email evidence has revealed that one Federal Highway Adminsitration (FHWA) engineer defended the safety of a widely-utilized guardrail system while acknowledging that its design was changed without federal authorization.
Trinity Industries guardrails are used across the nation as highway median barriers, and any alterations to the guardrails design must be approved by the FHWA. On Oct. 20, a Texas jury found that Trinity had changed the design of the shock-absorbing end terminal mechanisms in its ET-Plus System without notifying officials. The potentially dangerous change to the design meant that the end terminals jammed up when struck, rather than providing cushion for vehicles upon impact. This potential defect meant that many vehicles were speared as they hit the guardrails.
The jury found that Trinitys false claims defrauded taxpayers roughly $175 million.
Now, 2012 email communication between FHWA engineer Nick Artimovich and plaintiffs lawyers, state officials and others reveal that Artimovich not only defended the guardrail manufacturer, but that he forwarded an email alleging a second unauthorized change on to a Trinity consultant, advising that they speak to a lawyer.
In the emails, Artimovich said that he had a duty to protect the driving public and consumers. While Trinity stood to gain, and continued to amass, a substantial profit from the sales and use of its altered guardrails, Artimovich maintained that increased earnings could not outweigh the value of human life.
On Oct. 24, Trinity stopped shipping its altered ET-Plus System guardrails until additional crash testing ordered by the FHWA can be completed. Throughout the ordeal, Trinity has claimed that its failure to disclose the change to officials was the result of an accidental omission.