Martin & Jones, PLLC
Call today for a Free consultation.
800-662-1234

President of Guardrail Company Admits Trinity Did Not Provide Notice of Design Changes

The president of Trinity Highway Products, Gregory Mitchell, testified at trial that his company did not tell a single state about design changes when they were made in 2005. The testimony came on October 16, 2014 in a False Claims Act case against Trinity. The lawsuit alleged that the company defrauded the government because it reimbursed states for a product that was different from the one originally approved by the federal government for use on the nation’s highways. Evidence revealed that Trinity reduced the width of a piece of metal from five inches to four in 2005, but did not inform states of that design change.

The design changes in question relate to a 175-pound steel mechanism that mounts onto the end of a guardrail and is meant to cushion the impact of a crashing car. Instead of acting like a shock absorber, the revised version of the mechanism locks up and can impale incoming vehicles.

The whistleblower lawsuit focused on claims that Trinity defrauded the U.S. government by selling states a different guardrail product than the one that was approved for use in 2000. Trinity asserted that paperwork that would have identified the design change that reduced the width of a piece of metal from five inches to four inches in 2005 was “inadvertently omitted” from documents submitted to the Federal Highway Administration. The company president, Gregory Mitchell, acknowledged that Trinity also did not tell any states about the design change. Confronted with a letter to Vermont officials in 2006 which proclaimed the design was “identical” to the approved version and a letter to Florida officials asserting the guardrail system had gone through no major design changes, Mitchell conceded that the company’s statements were “not accurate.” Her further acknowledged: “We had told no states about the modification in 2005 to my knowledge.”

The same day Mitchell testified in the whistleblower trial, the Virginia Department of Transportation ordered its area engineers to stop installing the Trinity ET-Plus guardrail system. Virginia is the fourth state to take that measure in recent months, following Massachusetts, Missouri, and Nevada.

The whistleblower lawsuit began the second week of October. The lawsuit was brought by Joshua Harman, a competitor of Trinity, who asserts that Trinity defrauded the federal government of approximately $175 million by not telling it about the 2005 design changes. The federal government reimburses states for certain highway spending and in connection with that program approves guardrails, which are available for reimbursement. The qui tam lawsuit alleges that Trinity improperly profited when the federal government reimbursed states for a product that was different from the one originally approved by the federal government as safe and appropriate for use on the nation’s highways.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Testimonials

Contact US Get Help Now

Send us an email or call us today at 800-662-1234 to speak with an attorney about your claim or to arrange a free consultation. It costs nothing to call and there is no obligation. In fact, we are not paid until your case is resolved. Se habla español. If you are unable to travel to one of our offices in Raleigh, Durham and Wilmington, we will meet with you at your location.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Raleigh Office
410 Glenwood Avenue
Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27603

Toll Free: 800-662-1234
Phone: 919-821-0005
Raleigh Law Office Map

Wilmington Office
1213 Culbreth Drive
Suite 121
Wilmington, NC 28405

Toll Free: 800-662-1234
Phone: 910-256-4005
Wilmington Law Office Map

Durham Office
302 East Pettigrew Street
Suite 330
Durham, NC 27701

Toll Free: 800-662-1234
Phone: 919-544-3000
Durham Law Office Map