The Canadian town Stratford, Ontario, had filed a class-action lawsuit against Dallas, Texas-based guardrail manufacturer Trinity Industries, seeking a proposed $500 million in damages on behalf of all Canadian jurisdictions affected by the potentially deadly guardrails.
The lawsuit, filed in Ontario Superior Court, echoes what similar lawsuits against Trinity in the U.S. claim: that the manufacturer secretly modified the design of its ET-Plus guardrail 10 years ago and failed to warn anyone about the “serious failures” of the altered system.
“Rather than absorbing the crash energy as originally intended, designed and tested, the guardrail becomes a rigid spear that impales the vehicle and its occupants, often severing limbs,” the Canadian lawsuit states.
Meanwhile, transportation safety authorities across Canada await the results of new testing ordered by U.S. officials after a whistleblower case against Trinity ended in a $175-million verdict for the plaintiff, an amount that will automatically triple to $525 million under the provisions of the False Claims Act.
The results of some of those tests, conducted by an independent lab in San Antonio, are disputed and it is likely additional tests will be ordered.
At least three Canadian provinces, including Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, have removed Trinity guardrails from their list of approved guardrail systems, joining 42 U.S. states. None of the provinces or states has yet ordered the removal and replacement of ET-Plus guardrail systems already installed, although the state of Virginia is considering such a measure.
Whistleblower Joshua Harman, who brought the whistleblower lawsuit against Trinity, says that the ET-Plus guardrails have caused at least 200 injuries and deaths in the U.S.