Public Schools Seeking Compensation for Defective Artificial Turf Fields by FieldTurf

February 7, 2018

All across the country, sporting organizations and schools have watched as their pricey artificial turf fields deteriorate at a remarkably fast rate. FieldTurf is the leading manufacturer of artificial turf fields and has sold hundreds of possibly defective products to many unsuspecting customers, including right here in the state of Texas. These fields sold for many hundreds of thousands of dollars, often at taxpayer expense, and were touted to last for a decade or longer. Unfortunately, that hasn’t proved to be the case for many customers, and the manufacturer faces mounting lawsuits.

About FieldTurf

FieldTurf, a division of the publicly traded French flooring maker Tarkett, came to prominence when AstroTurf ran into problems related to injuries and quickly overtook their competitor to become the leading supplier of artificial playing surfaces.

In the early 2000s, the company was shown a new type of artificial fiber that was designed to more closely replicate grass and which seemed to be more resistant to sunlight, which would make it more durable than anything else in existence at the time. They called this new product Duraspine and marketed it as the premium product for artificial turf.

For the first few years, this claim appeared to be true, at least when it comes to the perspective of many coaches whose schools use FieldTurf. But after about five years, many started noticing significant problems with wear and tear. The long-term durability, which was one of the product’s key selling points, has been called into question following mounting evidence of widespread failure and an intentional cover-up within FieldTurf.

Mounting Evidence of Problems

FieldTurf, which was sold across the U.S. from 2005 to 2012, advertised a product life of 10-12 years, however many schools, communities, and other entities have seen problems arising within as little as three years after installation, including cracking, splitting, fraying, fibers breaking apart, and widespread matting across the playing fields.

Recent reports indicate that FieldTurf knew about problems related to the durability of their premium product as early as 2006, just one year after it came to market. However rather than informing the public and their customers, or stopping sales outright, the company continued to sell their product as the most durable on the market.

The Duraspine fields were sold with an eight-year warranty, however in most cases, when a school would report problems with their turf, the company would respond that the deterioration was normal or that the school wasn’t doing a good job maintaining the field. In other instances, they would send a crew out to glue torn patches back down, only to have the same issue crop up on the field within another couple of months.

Records obtained have found that executives at FieldTurf knew of problems shortly after sales began and there were extensive internal discussions about the rapid deterioration and their overblown sales pitches. However, the company never changed their marketing campaign for the turf, despite the problems.

The company continues to stand by their product however, and claims that the problem has not affected the majority of Duraspine fields, but rather that the majority of the cases have occurred in places like California or Texas where intense ultraviolet radiation has caused the product to break down prematurely.

Although there is evidence questioning the durability of Duraspine fields within the company from as early as 2006, the company took no action until it received a spike in customer complaints in 2009 and 2010 which prompted the company to conduct an internal investigation.

FieldTurf’s investigation pinned the blame on a supplier for altering the chemical formulation of the fiber and ultimately causing the defects. FieldTurf sued the supplier in 2011 and the parties eventually settled in 2014 for an undisclosed amount, with neither party admitting wrong doing in the case of the defective fields.

A Costly Mistake

The majority of FieldTurf fields cost between $300,000 and $500,000 and were often purchased with taxpayer funds. In total, the company sold nearly 1,500 turfs across the country, bringing in an estimated revenue of more than $500 million, with clients ranging from small towns to NFL teams.

While the Duraspine synthetic field turf was discontinued in 2012, many customers since then have seen their fields begin to fail prematurely, leaving many schools with fields that were virtually unusable and causing coaches to consider canceling practices and games as a result. Currently, nearly one in five FieldTurf Duraspine fields has had to be replaced due to extensive deterioration, and left many other schools wondering how they can afford to replace this costly mistake.

Although the fields were sold with an eight-year warranty, it has also come to light that FieldTurf has charged schools defective turf upgrade fees in order to replace the defective product with a new offering known as FieldTurf Revolution. The practice of charging to replace defective fields under warranty is something that continues, with prices ranging from $25,000 to $300,000.

Potential Compensation

If your school or school district has purchased a FieldTurf Duraspine synthetic field and has experienced a premature product failure, then you may be entitled to claim damages for the cost of the defective turf, the cost of a replacement turf, and seek damages for the deceptive trade practices and false advertising used by FieldTurf.

Lawsuits are mounting across the country as schools and organizations attempt to seek justice for the defective products which were sold under lofty promises and with warranties that haven’t been honored. Recently in Comal County, Texas, FieldTurf was ordered to pay the school district $251,000 when a civil jury found that FieldTurf breached the terms of its eight-year warranty. A class action lawsuit from unhappy customers in dozens of states is on the horizon due to FieldTurf misrepresenting the reliability, performance, and cost effectiveness of their product.

FieldTurf appears to be preparing for a fight, as they have hired the attorney Theodore Wells Jr., who became well known among many sports enthusiasts when the NFL asked him to investigate the New England Patriots and Tom Brady over the use of deflated footballs, in a probe widely known as Deflategate.

If your city, school, or municipality has experienced deterioration that is not in line with the company’s sales claims, then you may have been the victim of false advertising. Choosing a brand of artificial turf is a huge investment, and it is unfair that taxpayers should have to foot the bill to replace an inferior or defective product, while FieldTurf raked in hundreds of million in revenue.

If you represent a public entity who has been impacted by FieldTurf and their defective product, then the experienced defective product attorneys at Fears Nachawati can help determine the merits of your case and will fight for your rights as they seek out the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve in these instances.

Please contact our team by emailing help@fnlawfirm.com, by calling (866) 705-7584. You can also visit the offices of Fears Nachawati located throughout the great state of Texas, including Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.

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