Oklahoma Stops Installing Guardrails From Texas Firm After Federal Lawsuit Judgement
Thursday, October 23rd 2014, 12:51 PM CDT
The verdict against Trinity Industries was handed down Monday in federal district court in Marshall, Texas.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation says the
guardrails in question were installed across the state, but does not have an exact number of how many.
ODOT spokesperson Kenna Carmon says the state is now studying the situation, but at this time they don't plan to remove the guardrails. However, Oklahoma will not install any more of the ET-Plus guardrails until tests prove they are safe.
A whistleblower charged that Trinity changed the design of caps at each end of the guardrails a decade ago that made them more dangerous, then failed to properly test the units or tell government transportation officials about the change for years.
The company has said that since the guardrail system was introduced in 2000, it has met all federal testing standards. The federal government has reimbursed states that buy and install the guardrails.
The Federal Highway Administration sent a letter to Trinity on Tuesday telling the company it must perform additional testing on the guardrails and to provide a plan for new testing by October 31. If not, government may suspend or revoke the the eligibility of the guardrails for federal reimbursements to states, the letter said.
Colorado, Massachusetts, Missouri and Oregon who have taken the Trinity's ET-Plus guardrails off their lists of qualified products pending further field testing.
The final amount of damages was unclear. Under the federal law used to sue the company, the False Claims Act, damages could be tripled. The judge could also alter the jury's award.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.