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Open Recording Ruling
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Mar

28

On March 2, 2015 US Consumers Scored A Big Victory As The Court Ordered All Trinity Guardrail Court Records Unsealed In The Massive Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Defective Trinity Guardrails And Ordered The Records Open To The Public. This Decision Could Literally Save Lives.

The attorneys at Wallace & Graham of Salisbury NC continue to support open access to court proceedings because the public has a right to know. This is just another example of why it is important to inform the public of the dangers companies like Trinity Guardrails want to keep buried. If you have been injured by this product please call the experienced attorneys at Wallace & Graham P.A. at 1-800-849-5291 for a free no obligation private and confidential consultation.

To understand the importance of your right to know by having open access to court records we will briefly talk about the case and how the fantastic open records ruling was made. As with most defective products it all started with an accident in which the injuries were magnified and more severe due to the defective Trinity Guardrail system. Similar serious accidents multiplied and the problems with the Trinity Guardrails caught the attention of witnesses and also federal and state governments.

At least 42 states and the District of Columbia have suspended installations of the Trinity Guardrails system, some of them based partly on the study of Trinity’s ET-Plus guardrail end terminal, which is designed to absorb the impact of a crash. The study found that the device was almost four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than its predecessor model. This resulted in product liability litigation for the injured and also whistleblower litigation to try to, not only, stop the practice, but let the public know of the companies actions to suppress the defects and changes from the public and the government agencies.

We have all observed these devices on the highway as we travel at 60 or 70 miles per hour. The Trinity Guardrail end terminal devices are located at the beginning of almost every interstate guardrail segments with the reflective yellow tape announcing its presence. The Trinity Guardrail, if built to the government standard, was designed to absorb the impact of collisions and slow the vehicle so that the occupants of the vehicles are not injured by the guardrails themselves.

There have been numerous reported instances of the defective version of the Trinity Guardrails, which were built too strong and without sufficient flexibility, actually penetrating the doors of vehicles like a metal spear. The company is accused of many things including changing the design without telling anyone and using cheaper steel that lacked the elasticity and flexibility to crumple and absorb the power of the impact without penetration of the vehicle. Basically the company made its signature Trinity Guardrails protector too strong and inflexible and thus unsafe.

The company, clearly fearing the effects of bad publicity and the negative impact such a finding could have on its bottom line tried with all its might to keep all the records sealed from the public and the government. Allegedly, they did not want people to find out how they manipulated the data and sold a defective product without telling anyone.

THIS ALL CHANGED ON MARCH 2, 2015. The District Trial Court in the massive whistleblower lawsuit against Trinity Guardrails—U.S. ex rel. Harman v. Trinity— unsealed THE ENTIRE COURT FILE, which contained hundreds of sealed pleadings and exhibits relating to a dangerous highway guardrail that has been linked to dozens of deaths and injuries.

 The court also held that all of the testimony and exhibits from a recent trial of the case must also remain open to the public, effective immediately. The court's ruling is the culmination of years of effort to hold Trinity accountable for its actions.  In October 2014, a jury returned a verdict of $175 million against Trinity for lying to the federal government about secret design modifications to the company’s popular guardrail end terminal—the ET Plus—that has been linked to dozens of deaths and serious injuries.

In the wake of that decision, 42 states have withdrawn the ET-Plus from their approved products list, and dozens of personal injury victims and governmental entities have filed suit against Trinity.

 But Trinity is still denying that there is anything wrong with the ET-Plus, and it's been aggressively attempting to get the jury verdict overturned and to keep the court records under wraps.  The court denied all of Trinity's arguments and ordered that everything be unsealed – everything.

Wallace & Graham P.A. is proud of the work done by the trial attorneys who care for consumers and fight on their behalf every day. These exceptional attorneys, on behalf of the Center for Auto Safety and the Safety Institute, had urged the court to unseal the records because they contain important safety information on the dangers of a popular Highway guardrail end terminal, the ET-Plus.

Ruling from the bench on March 2, 2015, the Honorable Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas emphasized the importance of the public's presumptive right of access to court records and chastised Trinity for failing to make any real showing that secrecy was warranted.

Trinity is sure to challenge this decision to the Fifth Circuit, but we believe that the decision is likely to withstand any appeal.  Absent a contrary ruling from the Fifth Circuit within 10 days, the public will finally be able to know the whole truth about the ET-Plus.

If you believe you or someone you know was injured as a result of the Trinity Guardrail system and you want to know your rights and remedies please call the experienced attorneys at Wallace & Graham P.A. at 1-800-849-5291 for a free no obligation private confidential consultation.

We handle all types of injury claims and you are always welcome to give us a call on this or any other legal issue. We take pride in helping those who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or willful and wanton conduct. You have rights. Let us help you exercise your rights.

If you have been injured please call the experienced attorneys at Wallace & Graham P.A. at 1-800-849-5291 for a free no obligation private confidential consultation.

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