The state of Missouri is suing the company that made and marketed a guardrail that’s been at the center of a News4 Consumer investigation for years.
A number of people across the country have died or been severely injured after crashing into guardrail end pieces known as the X-LITE.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, which oversees the state’s Department of Transportation, filed a civil lawsuit against the Lindsay Corporation and other entities (Lindsay Entities) on June 9. The complaint lists several counts, including fraud and negligence.
According to the lawsuit, “Lindsay Entities did not disclose that they used different variants of the X-LITE system during testing or that it had modified the X-LITE system design throughout the course of its testing.”
The complaint goes on to say, “The design of the X-LITE system was defective, and ineffective at preventing spearing, vaulting, rollovers, and other unintended redirections of an impacting vehicle” and the guardrail “increased, rather than decreased, the chance of property damage, personal injury, and death to impacting motorists and passengers.”
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Missouri says it has replaced 655 X-LITES in the state at the cost of more than $4 million. The lawsuit is seeking damages of more than $5 million to cover those costs and others incurred by lawsuits stemming from X-LITE crashes.
The Lindsay Corporation responded with the following statement.
“The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) examined and re-examined the X-LITE and its in-service performance and gathered input from state departments of transportation across the United States. In FHWA's evaluations, the X-LITE performed consistently with other end terminals on U.S. roads and highways and did not lead to any conclusion that the X-Lite was unsafe. Numerous states have confirmed that they’ve had no negative experiences with the X-LITE.”
According to public filings on its web site, Lindsay Corporation has been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice since June 2019. The company’s quarterly filing says the federal investigation is focusing on whether it violated the False Claims Act relating to the X-LITE. A False Claims Act investigation means someone has accused the company of defrauding the federal government. The Department of Justice did not comment on the lawsuit.
X-LITEs are no longer being sold or installed in the U.S. Maryland and Virginia have replaced a majority of their X-LITES. West Virginia still has hundreds installed.