by Phil Stilton
LAKEWOOD-The Ocean County law firm of Bathgate, Wegener & Wolf, P.C. has joined forces with with national class action specialist Kozyak, Tropin & Throckmorton, P.A., of Coral Gables, Florida, to file the first federal class action lawsuit in the United States against FieldTurf USA and its affiliates.
FieldTurf USA has come under fire across New Jersey after fields it promised would last 10 years began breaking down much sooner than the company guaranteed. In the company’s advertising, they claimed, “Making the wrong turf decision can cost you a million dollars.”, but instead, their customers such as Carteret claim the fields will end up costing more to repair and replace.
The lawsuit claims Early on, however, FieldTurf internally knew that its marketing campaign was grossly exaggerated.
“Rather than adjust its campaign strategy to reflect this reality or simply warn existing and new customers about the defective nature of the Synthetic Grass Fields, FieldTurf chose to maximize profits and maintain its leading market share,” the suit claims.
Lawyers said a leaked internal email from FieldTurf executive Kenny Gilman revealed that in 2007, FieldTurf knew its marketing campaign for the affected Synthetic Grass Fields was “ridiculous” and opened up the company “to tons of exposure from a legal standpoint.”
The class action suit seeks over $5,000,000 in damages at the hands of FieldTurf and claims to have over 100 affected customers.
One of the earliest complaints about premature disintegration came in October 2006 after FieldTurf installed the new Synthetic Grass Field in a South American country. Laura Braga, FieldTurf’s operation director for FieldTurf Latin America, emailed Gilman, explaining that an artificial turf field using the old slim-fit fiber that was installed in 2003 was in better condition than the Synthetic Grass Field that was installed within the year. The new Synthetic Grass Field was displaying significant “premature wear.”
FieldTurf executives discussed the failures, but continued to keep the information from their customers according to the legal filing.
“Like other municipalities, school districts and public and private entities throughout the United States, Carteret purchased six synthetic grass fields from FieldTurf, which were marketed under brand names “FieldTurf,” “Duraspine” and “Prestige,” in reliance on FieldTurf’s representations,” the firm said. “Carteret contends in the class action lawsuit that the fields are defective because the fibers that make up the fields deteriorate prematurely, sometimes in as little as two years, in stark contrast to the 10 year life expectancy represented by FieldTurf. Carteret asserts that FieldTurf knew through field inspections and independent testing that the fields would deteriorate much sooner than FieldTurf had represented to potential customers. Instead of advising their customers of these problems, FieldTurf chose to maximize profits by increasing the intensity of its marketing campaign designed around the false information.”
Carteret seeks immediate relief requiring FieldTurf to repair and replace the synthetic grass fields and to pay damages. Immediate relief is necessary and appropriate because of the risk of injury to those using the deteriorating fields.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court, New Jersey on December 14th.