NJ federal judge certifies Carteret case against FieldTurf USA as a class action lawsuit

Hudson County and Newark School District also named in multi-state case
regarding defective artificial turf for fields

CARTERET, NJ – The Borough’s lawsuit against FieldTurf USA regarding the Georgia-based manufacturer’s allegedly defective Duraspine synthetic field turf has met requirements to proceed as a class action suit that also involves school districts and local governments throughout New Jersey, as well as New York, Pennsylvania and California.

U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp said the plaintiffs have satisfied requirements to bring a unified action against FieldTurf USA. Mayor Daniel J. Reiman said he was glad to hear of the decision.

“Carteret is one of the lead plaintiffs in the case,” Mayor Reiman said. “FieldTurf USA appears to have known that its artificial turf was defective but sold it to us and the other plaintiffs anyway. Judge Shipp’s decision hopefully will bode well for Carteret residents whose taxes paid for a large portion of the fields.”

According to court records, Carteret purchased six fields: four contracted for Civic Center Park in September 2006 and installed in 2008; one contracted for John Street Park in January 2007 and installed in May 2007; and one contracted for Sullivan Field in Carteret Park in 2010 and installed in 2011. The three contracts totaled more than $2 million, according to municipal records.

According to court records, Carteret reached out to FieldTurf in April 2013 about premature wear and spoke to two FieldTurf representatives, Perry DiPiazza and Andrew Schwartz, to report a warranty claim. The two stated that they need to conduct an inspection, which was performed five months later. More than a year passed before Carteret received additional information. Almost two years after Carteret’s first call to FieldTurf, DiPiazza e-mailed Carteret apologizing and promising to ease concerns; however, Carteret subsequently sent FieldTurf three letters between October 2015 and May 2016 and no further inspection was conducted.

In June 2016, FieldTurf finally expressed “personal apologies” through its representative. FieldTurf’s delay tactic appeared to be an effort to allow the warranty period to expire. Several months after FieldTurf’s apology, FieldTurf e-mailed Carteret three proposals that would require it to pay thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs.

Other plaintiffs in the case include Hudson County, Newark School District, Levittown Union Free School District in New York, Neshannock Township School District in Pennsylvania, the City of Fremont in California, and the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District also in California.

Judge Shipp’s order states, “Upon analyzing the plaintiff’s causes of action, the court finds that certification will significantly advance this litigation by determining key elements of FieldTurf’s liability using class-wide evidence. The court, therefore, finds that certification of the defect and deception issues is appropriate here.”

According to the suit, the plaintiffs’ claims are distilled down to two questions: “Whether all Duraspine fields sold by FieldTurf to the class share a common inherent defect” and “whether FieldTurf knowingly omitted the facts of this common defect from the proposed class in its marketing and sales presentations.”

The plaintiffs allege that the primary reason the Duraspine turf was defective was due to the materials that Dutch supplier TenCate supplied FieldTurf, which sued TenCate, claiming the supplier misrepresented the quality of the goods, selling cheap materials fabricated in a poor manufacturing process, according to that lawsuit. The plaintiffs claim that despite FieldTurf’s lawsuit, it still sold them turf made from the defective product.

Carteret is represented in the case by Lawrence Bathgate of Bathgate Wegener & Wolf in Lakewood. Other plaintiffs are represented by Christopher A. Seeger, Jennifer R. Scullion and Christopher L. Ayers of Seeger Weiss LLP in Ridgefield Park; James E. Cecchi and Michael A. Innes of Carella Byrne Cecchi Brody & Agnello PC in Roseland, and Adam M. Moskowitz and Howard M. Bushman of The Moskowitz Law Firm in Miami.

FieldTurf is represented by Diane P. Sullivan, Konrad Cailteaux and Allison Semaya of Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP in New York City and Reid Skibell of Glenn Agre Bergman & Fuentes LLP of New York City and San Francisco.

Updates about the case will be available at Carteret.net or by following @MyCarteret on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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