Arguments Continue in Consolidation Discussions of Defective Turf MDL

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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Arguments as to where the defective FieldTurf multidistrict litigation should be consolidated still continue with both sides presenting their arguments to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on March 28, 2017. Defendant FieldTurf USA Inc. and its various entities (FieldTurf Inc., Tarkett Inc. and FieldTurf Tarkett SAS) argue that the class-action suits claiming that the company sold defective DuraSpine turf to schools should be consolidated in New Jersey. Conversely, Plaintiffs maintain that the Central District of California or the Southern District of Texas would be the proper venue.

The defendant argues that consolidation in New Jersey is proper due to a number of cases have already been filed in the state. In addition, FieldTurf claims that the basis for the majority of the plaintiffs’ claims are based on an article by the Newark Star-Ledger that alleged the defendant sold defective turf to various schools knowing full well that the product would deteriorate much faster than customers anticipated.

Conversely, plaintiffs in the proposed MDL argue that consolidation should be made in the Southern District of Texas or the Central District of California. One plaintiff, the Brownsville Independent School District, argues that the Southern District of Texas would be the appropriate location of the MDL due to the large number of FieldTurf fields in the state. Brownsville claims that the number of FieldTurf fields in Texas—approximately 81—outweighs the fact that only one defective turf suit has been filed in the state thus far, arguing that there are sure to be more suits filed in the future to justify consolidation in Texas. Similarly, plaintiffs Santa Ynez Valley Union School District and Chaffey Joint Union High School District argue that New Jersey is not the proper venue; they claim that the Central District of California is proper due to the fact that there are currently more defective turf claims filed in California than New Jersey.

Plaintiffs in the suits all similarly claim that when their fields started to deteriorate, the company failed to take appropriate measures to fix the issue. Turf owners say that despite the turf still being under warranty, the defendant company offered to fix the defective field with the same defective turf originally installed or to upgrade the turf for an additional $175,000. Plaintiffs argue that the defendant was aware that the DuraSpine turf was defective and yet it still sold it to plaintiffs with assurances of longevity.

The case is: In Re Artificial Turf Litigation, MDL, Case No.: 2779, in the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation

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