A company that was responsible for supplying thousands of guardrails on the highways of South Carolina has had the damages against them tripled by a US District Court judge on Tuesday.
According to court documents, Trinity Industries was found guilty in a Texas district court of having defrauded the federal government after changing the design of their ET-Plus guardrail without informing the government by providing proper documentation for the substitution.
A whistleblower at the company made federal authorities aware of the company’s attempt to cut costs and increase profits for the federal contract.
The guardrails are required to fold up when they are struck by a vehicle, thus reducing the number of injuries or deaths in accidents involving guardrails. The new design change, according to other guardrail manufacturers, could lead to more deaths.
Trinity Industries officials deny the accusations and insist that their guardrails are safe.
A jury unanimously concluded that Trinity had violated the False Claims Act and judged a settlement against Trinity for $175 million. On Tuesday, a judge increased the amount to $525 million, and added an additional $138 million in penalties and fines for having made for false claims.
Representatives for Trinity denied any allegations of fraud and claims that the judgment should be reversed.
Most people don’t think about what highway administrations at every level do in order to keep motorists safe on the highways. Companies who bid and win government contracts are expected to play by the rules or face the consequences for putting motorists at risk.
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