Trinity Industries Whistleblower Josh Harman Awarded $199 Million

Whistleblowing can be a brutal endeavor.

But on the other hand, under the False Claims Act, whistleblowing can also pay off.


Call it doing well by doing good.

Whistleblowing  paid off big this week for Joshus Harman.

A federal judge in Texas has awarded Harman $199 million — or 30 percent of the total $663 million judgement against Trinity Industries, a guardrail manufacturer.

In a False Claims Act lawsuit, Harman alleged that Trinity modified the guardrails it had sold to the federal government for use on federal highways but did not disclose those modifications, as required by law.

Harman also alleged that Trinity did not properly test those modified units, known as ET-Plus guardrails.

“The changes for the ET-Plus are not harmless,” Harman alleged. “If a vehicle strikes the modified ET-Plus, the modified internal dimensions of the ET-Plus can cause the guardrail to lock in the throat of the unit, thereby causing the unit to malfunction, creating a hazard to the occupants of the vehicle and others. Several recent accidents involving the modified ET-Plus units have resulted in serious injuries and fatalities when the ET-Plus units malfunctioned.”

Last year, a federal jury in Texas sided with Harman and said that Trinity owed the government $175 million in damages. And the judge, Rodney Gilstrap, in a 42-page decision, upheld that verdict.

This week, the judge tripled that award to $525 million and then added a civil penalty of $138 million — $8,250 for each of the 16,711 false certifications Trinity made to the federal government.

The judge then awarded Harman a full 30 percent of the recovery — citing the fac that “the government opted not to participate in the trial of this case and left the full burden of prosecuting this qui tam case to Joshua Harman.”

He also awarded Harman $19 million in attorneys fees and costs.

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