School district sues turf maker after report of defects

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The state's largest school district has sued the country's leading maker of artificial turf after a report that executives knew fields might not live up to lofty marketing claims.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Newark public schools comes after a review of insider company records, emails and interviews by NJ.com (http://bit.ly/2h0oh9l ) found that Montreal-based FieldTurf sold more than 1,000 fields to towns, schools and teams across the U.S. when its executives knew they were falling apart faster than expected.

The company said in a statement that it disagrees with the conclusions reached by NJ.com and says it has lived up to its warranties and hasn't hurt taxpayers.

''We are fully confident that when considered in full, the facts will show that customers in New Jersey were well-served by FieldTurf,'' the company said.

FieldTurf said that the turf it began selling in 2005 was revolutionary for its ''unmatched durability'' and that it would last a decade or more. But records obtained by NJ Advance Media show that as early as 2006, key FieldTurf executives became aware that the turf, known as Duraspine, was cracking, splitting and breaking apart long before it should and long before the public had been promised.

Most of the fields, which fetched $300,000 to $500,000 or more, were paid for with tax dollars. FieldTurf sold 1,428 of those fields in the U.S. to towns and even NFL teams for an estimated $570 million from 2005 until the product was discontinued in 2012.

Despite several internal email discussions about their overblown sales pitches, which were reviewed by the news organization, executives never changed their marketing campaign for Duraspine fields, the news report said.

The lawsuit cites the news report and is seeking class-action status for other districts that bought FieldTurf.

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Information from: NJ.com, http://www.nj.com

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