Akin Gump Represents Trinity Industries in Landmark False Claims Act Victory

(Dallas) – On September 29, the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit overturned a $663 million judgment against Trinity Industries, Inc. in a False Claims Act (FCA) suit regarding allegedly defective highway guardrail end terminals. A team from Akin Gump represented Trinity Industries in the matter, along with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Haynes and Boone LLP.  

In its precedent-setting decision, the 5th Circuit determined that the lower court’s decision could not stand and rendered judgment as a matter of law in favor of Trinity. In doing so, the 5th Circuit relied on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling—Universal Health Services v. Escobar—to hold that, because the U.S. government, the purported victim in the case, determined that the product was fully qualified for payment, the relator could not establish an FCA violation as a matter of law.

In reaction, Trinity stated, “As the Fifth Circuit noted, the federal government has consistently reaffirmed the ET Plus® System meets all federal safety performance standards. This ruling confirms our long-standing belief that no fraud was committed.”

The Akin Gump team representing Trinity included partners Robert Salcido and Elizabeth Marie Dulong Scott. Mr. Salcido is one of the country’s premier FCA lawyers and is the author of False Claims Act & the Healthcare Industry: Counseling & Litigation and The Salcido Report. Ms. Scott’s practice likewise focuses on defending lawsuits filed under the FCA and state equivalents and on representing public company officers and directors in responding to governmental investigations and related civil litigation.

Trinity’s victory at the 5th Circuit follows two other recent victories for the client: Akin Gump recently assisted the company in securing the voluntary dismissal with prejudice and no payment by Trinity of two putative government purchaser class actions pending in the United States district courts for the Southern District of Illinois and the Western District of Wisconsin related to the same product at issue in the 5th Circuit action. Ms. Scott and securities and class action partner Michelle Reed led the Akin Gump team in these suits. Government investigations and litigation partner Mike Warnecke is leading the Akin Gump team representing Trinity in ongoing guardrail litigation matters.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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