Federal judge in Texas orders mediation in false-claims case involving highway guardrails

A federal judge is ordering mediation in a lawsuit in which jurors ruled that a Texas company should pay $175 million over a design change in highway guardrails.

Critics say the change made it more likely that cars could be impaled if they hit either end of the guardrails head-on.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Rodney Gilstrap ordered Trinity Industries Inc. and the whistle-blower who filed the lawsuit to attend mediation with a Duke University law professor by Dec. 31.

The company says the verdict won't stand up. Lawyers for the whistle-blower say mediation doesn't mean the jury's decision will be overturned.

A jury in Marshall, Texas, decided Oct. 20 that Trinity deceived government regulators by not disclosing the design change. The judge could triple the damages.