FieldTurf is touted as being a “smart and profitable investment” by the parent company that manufactures it: Tarkett. But while the fake grass is touted as FIFA quality, high performance, durable, weather resistant, and even eco-friendly (all claims that can be viewed in a video produced by Tarkett advertising the FieldTurf), complaints against the company allege fraud. In fact, multiple school systems across the state of California have filed lawsuits against the company for selling faulting fields.
The Problem: FieldTurf Fails to Live Up to Claims of Durability and Longevity
The claims against FieldTurf are two-fold: First, purchases of the turf (primarily school districts and other athletic departments) allege that the turf did not last nearly as long as the company claimed it would. In fact, one coach – whose story was cited in a recent article in Forbes – talked about the “black crumbs surface,” and the grass wearing out to the point of creating a hazard for athletes. (As a note, another study, summarized in this article from Reuters, found that ACL injuries are more common when athletes play on artificial surfaces, like FieldTurf).
The second part of the problem is that in addition to deteriorating before its guaranteed quality date, purchases of the turf also claim that the company refused to replace the turf, breaching their warranty agreement. In many of the cases that have been filed against FieldTurf, school officials claim that they were promised by the company that the FieldTurf would last between eight and 10 years, and were given eight-year warranties. About six years after purchase, however, the fields began “breaking, splitting, and thinning,” according to an article in 4-Traders.com. The same source reports that the school systems are seeking a combined $15.7 million in damages.
What’s Next for Tarkett?
FieldTurf, and parent company Tarkett, are being targeted under the Consumer Fraud Act, which prohibits companies from using deceptive or false practices or advertising. In addition to facing litigation from those who have purchased the turf and believe that the company violated its warranty agreement, it is possible that lawsuits from parents of children who have been injured on the turf (as well as suits filed by adult athletes) will be filed against the company as well. These suits might allege that Tarkett violated its duty to consumers to manufacture a product free of defects, and should be held liable for injuries caused by defective products. Of course, in addition to paying large settlements in the event that cases are resolved in plaintiffs’ favor, Tarkett may face fallout as well and damage to its reputation, losing future profits, and potentially facing recalls. Sanctions against the company are also possible.
In fact, while the price of Tarkett’s shares almost doubled last year, moving from 18 euros to 35 euros, the share price recently fell to a mere one euro. The slip could be an indication of what is to come for the company in future months as litigation develops.