FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
North Carolina and Tennessee families file lawsuits related to death and severe injury caused by Lindsay X-LITE guardrails known to create safety hazards across the country
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The son of a North Carolina woman killed by an X-LITE guardrail device filed a lawsuit in the South Carolina Circuit Court of Spartanburg County today against the companies involved in the product’s manufacturing and installation. Made by the Nebraska-based Lindsay Corporation (NYSE: LNN), the X-LITE guardrail model has claimed dozens of lives nationwide, impaling vehicle passengers rather than telescoping into itself as the company claims the product is designed to do, and posing a threat to drivers across the country. A separate lawsuit was filed today in Tennessee by a woman whose left leg had to be partially amputated after her car collided with an X-LITE guardrail end terminal. Both lawsuits were filed on behalf of the victims’ families by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.
On April 29, 2017, Ronald and Charlotte Blankenship were riding in their car on Interstate 26 about one mile east of the intersection of Union Highway and Bethany Church Road in Spartanburg County, South Carolina when their vehicle left the roadway off the right shoulder, striking a Lindsay X-LITE guardrail terminal designed to help ease the blow of a high-speed collision. Instead of deflecting the car or collapsing (or “telescoping”) to absorb the vehicle’s impact, the guardrail terminal impaled the couple’s car on the passenger side, violently striking Mrs. Blankenship who suffered immediate and catastrophic injuries. She ultimately died from her injuries. Mr. Blankenship, who witnessed his wife’s death, survived the crash.
“For close to a year, my father, family and I have lived in disbelief and agony over the death of my mother, whose life was cut short by this dangerous device,” said Chad Blankenship, son of X-LITE victim Charlotte Blankenship. “What is most tragic about her death was that she was not the first and it therefore may have been preventable. Many others across the country have seen their loved ones’ lives taken away by a product that was deemed safe. This is not right, and we need to do more to stop these tragedies from happening ever again.”
A separate lawsuit also filed today in the Tennessee Circuit Court of Hamilton County details a similar incident in which Joyce Moyer’s vehicle veered off the right shoulder on Interstate 40 in Putnam County, Tennessee and collided with an X-LITE guardrail end terminal. The terminal pierced the vehicle’s exterior and frame of Mrs. Moyer’s vehicle, causing severe injuries to her body, ultimately requiring partial amputation of her left leg. The accident happened on June 30, 2017, just two months after Charlotte Blankenship’s death.
Last year, the families of three other victims of crashes involving the X-LITE terminal filed lawsuits in Tennessee state court against Lindsay Corporation. The three victims – Lauren Beuttel, Jacob Davison and Wilbert Byrd – were all killed by X-LITE terminals malfunctioning on impact, with the devices violently piercing the victim’s car instead of buckling when hit. In the case of Wilbert Byrd, dashboard camera video showed over 60 feet of guardrail passed through his car in a matter of seconds after being struck.
Since 2016, X-LITE has been linked to dozens of deaths and catastrophic injuries nationwide in which the device impaled the vehicles upon impact along high-speed highways and interstates. Safety concerns over the X-LITE model performance were originally centered in Tennessee, which saw repeated incidents of guardrail ends detaching and the rails themselves entering the vehicle. According to the United States Department of Transportation, there are approximately 14,000 X-LITE units currently installed across the country. In April 2017, the Tennessee Department of Transportation authorized the removal of the X-LITE guardrail terminals statewide. Since then, states that have removed or made the decision to remove the units include Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, Virginia, Vermont, Rhode Island and New Jersey. Dozens more have removed X-LITE from their approved product lists, including Maryland and South Carolina.
“It is profoundly discouraging that Lindsay Corporation continues to stand by this dangerous device after all the pain and suffering it has caused,” said Theodore J. Leopold, Chair of Cohen Milstein’s Unsafe & Defective Products and Catastrophic Injury & Wrongful Death practices, which represent the Blankenship and Moyer families, as well as Steve Eimers and the Beuttel, Davison and Byrd families. “The company needs to be held responsible for the tragic losses of these families, and we look forward to getting them swift justice.”
“The Lindsay Corporation needs to stop deflecting responsibility for its role in these deaths and stop putting drivers nationwide in danger,” said Leslie M. Kroeger, Partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and a lead member of the plaintiffs’ legal team. “We will stand by our clients and support them in whatever way we can as we look to finally bring them the closure they need and deserve and help make our roads safer.”
Steve Eimers, father of Hannah Eimers who was killed instantly when her car struck a Lindsay X-LITE guardrail terminal in 2016, filed a consumer safety protection lawsuit against Lindsay Corporation in October 2017. Mr. Eimers, who is an emergency medical technician, has campaigned across the U.S., raising awareness of the X-LITE’s threat to motorists and the lack of rigorous oversight at many safety and transportation agencies, pushing policymakers at the federal, state and local level to act. In April 2017, Mr. Eimers, along with attorneys, Ted Leopold and Leslie Kroeger of Cohen Milstein, met with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials in Washington, D.C. and delivered a letter in-person from the families of victims, urging the FHWA to revoke its “letter of eligibility” for the X-LITE terminal. Just last week, the New York Department of Transportation – following months of advocacy by Mr. Eimers, including his participation in a major press conference with NY State Senator Catharine Young and Cohen Milstein attorney Poorad Razavi in May 2017 – announced that it too will remove all X-LITE guardrail products from the state’s highways by the end of 2018.
Both lawsuits filed today seek relief for physical, mental and financial damages incurred by the families as the result of death and severe injury. The families are being represented by Ted Leopold, Leslie Kroeger and Poorad Razavi of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll. Malcolm Crosland of Steinberg Law Firm is the local counsel for the Blankenship lawsuit and Gregory F. Coleman of Greg Coleman Law is the local counsel for the Moyer lawsuit.
About Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
Founded in 1969, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC is recognized as one of the premier law firms in the country handling major, complex plaintiff-side litigation. With more than 90 attorneys, Cohen Milstein has offices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Ill., New York, N.Y., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Philadelphia, Pa., and Raleigh, N.C. For additional information, visit www.cohenmilstein.com or call (561)-515-1400.