Houston, TX (PRWEB) November 15, 2014
Commenting on a recent New York Times article about a recent lawsuit* finding Texas guardrail manufacturer Trinity Industries liable for defrauding the federal government, Houston whistleblower attorney J. Mark Brewer said today that the case serves as an example of how corporate whistleblowers can make a significant difference.
Whistleblowers not only can uncover fraud, but also shed light on critical safety flaws that companies are unwilling to report to government agencies, Brewer said.
The attorney based his comments on an October 20 article, “Guardrail Maker Trinity Industries Liable for Fraud in Texas,” which reported that jurors awarded $ 175 million to a Texas whistleblower and the federal government after it was revealed that the manufacturer allegedly made potentially deadly changes to products sold to the U.S. government without informing the Federal Highway Administration of its changes. Trinity, which denied the allegations, might appeal the decision, according to the New York Times.
“As this recent verdict demonstrates, whistleblowers play a pivotal role in society for a number of reasons,” said Brewer, a whistleblower attorney with 33 ½ years’ experience. “Whistleblowers help to hold corporations accountable for their dishonest or illegal activity. The work they do is about more than the money they receive from the verdict. It’s also about keeping citizens safe. They may expose potentially deadly safety flaws in products that companies may have deliberately failed to report to federal regulators. While the company may appeal the verdict, the Trinity verdict raises serious questions about guardrails on highways across the nation.”
According to the New York Times report, Texas whistleblower Joshua Harman – a competitor of Trinity – filed a claim on behalf of the U.S. government in 2011 after discovering a design change in the company’s guardrail systems dating back to 2005. The claim alleged that Trinity failed to report the change – a design change made to a rail head which could cause rail systems to fail during a car accident – to the Federal Highway Administration as required by law.
The New York Times report revealed that 14 lawsuits blame the guardrails for five deaths nationwide and that Trinity made product design changes to save about two dollars per every rail head manufactured. In addition to failing to report the changes to the Federal Highway Administration, the article indicates that Trinity Industries may have also misled some states about their products and provided inaccurate information about design changes.
As a result, the jury awarded $ 175 million under the False Claims Act, according to the article. The money will be tripled under federal law to $ 525 million and split between the United States treasury and the whistleblower, the New York Times reports.
“At Brewer & Pritchard, we know it takes courage to come forward speak out about alleged illegal activity,” Brewer said. “These cases can be complicated. The corporations accused of wrongdoing typically will have a team of attorneys working behind the scenes on their behalf. That’s why whistleblowers need someone on their side. They need to level the playing field. We urge individuals who suspect they have a whistleblower case to discuss their legal options immediately.”
The lawsuit cited is United States of America, ex rel. Joshua Harmon vs. Trinity Industries, Inc. (No. 2-12-cv-0089-JRG); U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division
About Brewer & Pritchard, P.C.
Serving clients throughout Texas and across the country, the attorneys at Brewer & Pritchard, P.C. have a well-earned reputation for being knowledgeable, experienced lawyers focused on results. The Houston law firm handles a wide variety of cases, including Medicaid fraud, whistleblower claims, business law, corporate law, mergers, acquisitions and other legal issues. Our law firm discreetly investigates every case and respect’s our clients’ privacy. Not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
For more information about what to do if you suspect fraud activity at your company and the legal options available to whistleblowers, call (713) 209-2950 or complete the online contact form.
Brewer & Pritchard, P.C.
3 Riverway #1800
Houston, TX 77056