Virginia is suing the guardrail maker Trinity Industries, saying that it sold the state thousands of pieces of potentially dangerous, improperly tested and unapproved products.
The suit makes Virginia the first governmental entity to participate in whistle-blower suits against Trinity, which is based in Dallas. The suits were brought on behalf of state and federal governments, but none of those entities, until now, have been plaintiffs.
In October, a jury found that Trinity had defrauded the federal government when it did not inform the Federal Highway Administration of changes it made to the guardrail, the ET-Plus, in 2005. The company sold the guardrails to state governments, which, in turn, received federal reimbursement.
The jury returned with a verdict for $175 million, which will, by law, be tripled, to $525 million. The highway agency did not participate in the federal case.