There is no doubt that Trinity brand guardrails have posed serious hazards to drivers on the roads – we even wrote about it on our Brayton Purcell LLP blog back in December of 2013. What we didn’t report on was the court documents sealed from the public regarding the safety of their products.
Several accidents involving Trinity guardrails have occurred since the company changed the design of the product’s head models in 2005. The company changed the design and allowed them to be installed on U.S. roadways without alerting the federal government, who had approved Trinity’s previous design. The new models have been found to be more likely to be involved in accidents involving serious injuries and deaths, yet the company kept this information hidden from the public in sealed court records.
In 2012, Trinity stated that it was “taking the steps necessary to fully protect the intellectual property of Texas A&M and the outstanding reputation of Trinity Highway Products and the ET-Plus® System.” Apparently these steps included concealing court records, including crash test reports. More recently, the Public Justice Foundation represented The Center for Auto Safety in efforts to unseal these records from the public, and succeeded.
The victory means drivers and their passengers are one step closer to safer American roads. Public Justice believes that this access to the facts will be critical for making a case to the federal government to withdraw its approval of the guardrails, and phase out and remove the products completely from our highways.