Decatur field provider says it’s solved issues that led to lawsuits
(March 8, 2019) When plans for new turf on the athletic field at Stephen Decatur High School were approved on Feb. 19, by the Worcester County Board of Education, the board knew only that it had used the contractor, FieldTurf USA, twice before.
It apparently did not know that FieldTurf is being sued in federal court in New Jersey by dozens of former clients, including Montgomery County parks, after the artificial turf the company sold to those jurisdictions reportedly failed to perform as advertised.
Apparently at issue in those cases is synthetic grass called “Duraspine,” which the plaintiffs allege degraded much more rapidly than the company had represented.
While defending that product’s performance, FieldTurf USA spokesman Joseph Germani said the company nevertheless ceased using that product in 2010.
Board of Education spokeswoman Carrie Sterrs also confirmed that the company will be using fibers of its own creation, not Duraspine, for the Stephen Decatur project.
She also explained the process by which FieldTurf was selected to supply the turf aspect of the $1.3 million project.
“The Worcester County Board of Education followed its purchasing policy and the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), which allows the BOE to piggyback on contracts awarded through other governmental agencies or purchasing cooperatives such as the Keystone Purchasing Network, which was used for this project,” she said.
She added that FieldTurf also installed turf at Pocomoke High School in 2010 and Snow Hill High School 2015 and that no issues with those fields have been reported.
“It may be important to distinguish that these fields (and the upcoming SDHS project) are not Duraspine fields,” Sterrs said.
Even then, Germani said less than 2 percent of the Duraspine fields were replaced under warranty and that, in any case, “the new Stephen Decatur High School Field will use our FieldTurf XM product.”
Germani also disputed reports of a class action lawsuit against the company, as reported by Forbes magazine last January and shortly thereafter by Bethesda Magazine, both of which focused on the Montgomery County case.
Germani said the courts have not yet certified any class action against FieldTurf, “and they have not yet even decided whether most of the claims are valid,” he said. “Importantly, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have both closed investigations into FieldTurf without finding any wrongdoing.”
The final construction cost for the SDHS project is $1.3 million, but entails more than the turf field, and includes all field sub-base, base and drainage construction, constructing a new high jump pad, a new shot put and discus pad, installation of new football goal posts and soccer goals and resurfacing the existing running track around the perimeter of the new turf field.
FieldTurf USA will continue to work on the project, which had even limited the original cost by $400,000 by donating the cost of stripping for the football, soccer, and field hockey fields.
“We are committed to honoring our warranties and working with our customers to address any issues if they arise,” Germani said.
“Since we first became aware of the issue with Duraspine, we have been responsive to our customers experiencing issues with their fields.”