The Newark (N.J.) school system has sued the nation's leading maker of artificial sports fields, FieldTurf, contending that the company has defrauded more than 100 public and private schools and municipalities in the state.
NJ.com reports that the lawsuit comes on the heels of an NJ Advance Media investigation that reported the company sold high-end turf for years after executives knew it was falling apart.
The class-action lawsuit contends that FieldTurf violated the state Consumer Fraud Act by concealing knowledge of the turf's problems, and by failing to change marketing and advertising claims. The suit also alleges breach of contract, negligence and unjust enrichment.
The lawsuit takes aim at the company's decision not to notify customers of problems with the turf or change its marketing and advertising claims. At $300,000 to $500,000 per field, the turf was the most expensive on the market, the investigation says, but FieldTurf officials said the surface would perform better and last longer than any product sold by competitors.
As early as 2006, key FieldTurf executives became aware the turf, sold primarily as Duraspine or Prestige XM, was cracking, splitting and breaking apart.
The company has issued a lengthy statement on its web site disputing the NJ Advance Media investigation, asserting that FieldTurf's "New Jersey fields were not, and are not defective."
"It is ridiculous to insinuate, as the story does, that a field is defective simply because it does not look the same when it nears the end of its warranty period as it did when it was first installed," FieldTurf President and CEO Eric Daliere says. "Just as a tire loses tread over time, splitting and fibrillation is normal for fibers – it is how they age."