June 11, 2014

Arlington district sues artificial-turf firm for more than $1 million

The district claims FieldTurf USA supplied “defective” multisport turf products that they failed to fix.

After a four-year turf war, the Arlington school district is suing the company that invented grasslike artificial turf for more than $1 million.

The district recently filed a lawsuit in a Tarrant County district court against FieldTurf USA Inc., and FieldTurf Tarkett USA Holdings, Inc. for artificial turf installed in 2007 at Sam Houston High School’s Wilemon Field and Lamar High School’s Cravens Field.

The lawsuit states that the outdoor artificial turf fields “proved to be defective and failed” as early as 2010.

Furthermore the district alleged the company “admitted in writing” that the product sold to them had “failed.”

“This has been an ongoing issue within the district and this company since at least 2010,” school board member John Hibbs said. “We know there is also a timeline on their warranty approaching, and the board felt it was time to move forward to the next step and have a resolution brought to this case.”

The district claims that the company has refused to repair and replace the artificial turf, for which it paid $1.5 million.

Arlington has an eight-year warranty with FieldTurf USA through August 2015. The company invented a type of artifical grass-like turf with three layers of silica sand and rubber between the fibers to provide “softness on impact” and “the correct firmness and cleat-release.”

In a prepared statement issued by FieldTurf on Wednesday, Darren Gill, global marketing vice president, said the company has tried to work with Arlington:

“FieldTurf has attempted to work alongside Arlington ISD. We have stayed in frequent dialogue over many months about the condition of the field. Throughout those discussions we have assured the district that we would stand by our warranty, just as we have done with other clients who have experienced the same issues,” the statement reads. “We have made an offer to replace the field at Arlington ISD at no cost to the school. The district has rejected our offer. FieldTurf has not wavered in its commitment to customer service.”

Gill went on to say the lawsuit has nothing to do with the safety and performance of FieldTurf’s fields. He said the company has had recent communication with the school district and is optimistic that the dispute over the turf can be resolved.

Attorney Frank Hill of Hill Gilstrap is representing the school district along with school district attorney Heather Castillo.

“It’s my understanding that Turf now says that they are willing to meet with us next week, honor their warranty and take care of the problem,” Hill said. “And if they are sincere in that, we have high hopes that it will be resolved next week.”

Marie France Nantel, vice president of legal affairs and general counsel at Tarkett Sports, is representing FieldTurf.

The school district said they were checking to see if any reported injuries have been associated with the fields, but could otherwise not comment further.

Both fields host varsity football games for Sam Houston, Lamar, Martin, Bowie and Seguin. They also host freshman and junior high football and soccer teams.

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