Guardrail manufacturer Trinity Industries Inc. settled a product liability case over its allegedly defective guardrails, the day before trial was set to begin in the suit brought by a North Carolina man who lost both his legs in a highway accident.
The Plaintiff, Jay Scott Traylor, had alleged Trinity’s negligence caused a guardrail on I-40 in North Carolina to pierce through the driver’s side floor, severing his legs. He further asserted that if the guardrail met the design specifications it had won federal approval for, it would have absorbed the impact of Traylor’s car.
Specifically, he asserted that at some point between 2000 and 2005, Trinity secretly altered the guardrail design by shortening the exit gap on the end terminals, reducing the length of the chute to the head by a foot, and inserting the rails into the heads rather than welding them flush. Mr. Traylor claims that Trinity sought the Federal Highway Administration’s approval for other design changes it made to the guardrails but never sought permission for the alterations that allegedly diminished the device’s performance. Traylor sought compensatory relief from the court for Traylor’s medical care, lost wages, injuries and mental anguish, as well as punitive damages.