MARSHALL, Texas -- McKool Smith, along with co-counsel from Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, Durrette Crump PLC, and T. John Ward of Ward & Smith, among other firms, secured a unanimous verdict against Trinity Industries Inc. after a Texas federal jury found that the company defrauded the United States by making false statements concerning a modified guardrail system and ordered it to pay $175 million in damages. Under federal law, the jury’s verdict will be tripled to $525 million and then added to a penalty that will be determined by the judge at a later date.
The verdict was announced on October 20, 2014, after a six-day jury trial before Judge Rodney Gilstrap in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall.
McKool Smith’s client, Joshua Harman, a guardrail installer and former Trinity competitor, brought the case under the False Claims Act (FCA) after discovering that Trinity made changes to its guardrails that compromised the safety of the equipment without informing the United States Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The guardrails were then sold by the company to state governments who received federal reimbursement. The jury found that Trinity Industries deliberately withheld this information from the government.
“The jury did a very thorough job at weighing the arguments and analyzing the facts,” said McKool Smith principal Sam Baxter. “The equipment was unsafe and the Federal Highway Administration was clearly defrauded. The jury made the right decision.”
The case is U.S. ex rel. Joshua Harman v. Trinity Industries Inc. et al., case number 2:12-cv-00089, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
With more than 185 trial lawyers across offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Marshall, New York, Silicon Valley, and Washington, DC, McKool Smith has established a reputation as one of America’s leading trial firms. Over the past eight years, the firm has secured eight nine-figure jury verdicts, as well as seven eight-figure jury verdicts. The firm has also won more National Law Journal and VerdictSearch "Top 100 Verdicts" over the last five years than any other law firm in the country. Courtroom successes like these have earned McKool Smith critical acclaim and helped the firm become what The Wall Street Journal describes as “one of the biggest law firm success stories of the past decade.” McKool Smith represents leading clients in complex commercial litigation, intellectual property, bankruptcy, and white collar defense matters.