Trinity Guardrail Whistle-Blower Case Results in Mistrial
By Patrick G. Lee July 19, 2014
Trinity Industries Inc. (TRN:US)’s courtroom defense of the safety of its highway guardrails prompted a federal judge to declare a mistrial after “serious concerns” arose about a company witness’s truthfulness.
U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap in Marshall, Texas, ruled yesterday that both sides of the whistle-blower trial, through “sharp practices or inadvertent error,” created an environment in which the jury couldn’t reach a fair verdict.
As much as $1 billion is at stake in the case, a company lawyer said in May. Trinity is accused of making secret, money-saving changes to one of its highway guardrail products that caused them to impale rather than slow vehicles.
Gilstrap cited questions over whether the president of the company’s Trinity Highway Products unit tried to intimidate a witness or committed perjury, according to a transcript provided by lawyers for the plaintiff. The transcript wasn’t immediately available from the court.
“With regards to the allegations about Gregg Mitchell, president of Trinity Highway Products LLC, they are completely untrue and we will prove this in court,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.
The judge said he’ll set a new trial date when he meets with lawyers for a conference on Aug. 18.
About two hours of testimony remained yesterday when the judge declared the mistrial, according to Nicholas Gravante Jr., a lawyer for the plaintiff with Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.
“We’re anxious to get this trial retried as expeditiously as possible,” he said.
Joshua Harman, of Swords Creek, Virginia, sued Trinity, one of the biggest guardrail makers in the U.S., alleging it changed the design of one of its products without telling federal authorities. Trinity modified what’s called an energy-absorbing end termin
I for one don't see how this case could stand up so I don't dig the $1B... I think Trinity will do just fine defending against this. Also, I see earnings next week beating once again. Short TRN, good luck with that.