A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas returned a verdict against Trinity Industries and awarded the plaintiff $175 million in damages.
The plaintiff, a competitor of Trinity Industries, brought the case as a whistleblower under the False Claims Act alleging that Trinity Industries (a guardrail manufacturer) had secretly changed its government approved guardrail design in order to save money. Under the False Claims Act (also known as a Qui Tam law), private individuals can file suit on behalf of the federal government to recover damages from individuals or companies who have defrauded a governmental program. The individual who files suit on behalf of the government is then afforded an interest in any recovery (typically 15-25 percent). The size of the jury verdict in this case demonstrates that Qui Tam actions under the False Claims Act can be very successful.