In May, a jury trial has been set in Dallas County district court pitting an Oklahoma plaintiff named Chad Thomas against Dallas-based Trinity Industries Inc. and its subsidiary, Trinity Highways Products LLC. Trinity manufactures guardrails, including an “end terminal” piece of the rail called the ET Plus, that are used alongside roadways around the country—and, in 2015, along the H.E. Bailey Turnpike in or near Chickasha, Oklahoma. That’s where Thomas veered off the road in his Ford Explorer three years ago and unceremoniously met up with one of these end terminals, which penetrated the body of the Ford and ripped Thomas’ leg apart.
Thomas and one of his lawyers, Steven R. Lawrence of Fort Worth, allege that the guardrail and end terminal were “defective and unreasonably dangerous,” due to alterations to the ET Plus that Trinity had made a decade earlier without notifying the Federal Highway Administration. (Trinity insists the modifications were irrelevant to the rail’s safety.) For Lawrence, the details of Thomas’ case are sadly familiar. That’s because the Cowtown attorney has been on a crusade against Trinity over these guardrails for years, driving 170,000 miles across the country in his Chevy pickup to take depositions from accident victims and question experts. In the March issue of D CEO, writer Tom Stephenson describes the ups and downs of Lawrence’s “minnow-versus-whale” campaign, and tells why the lawyer persists in his crusade. Read the whole story here.