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Breitenbach Stadium

Reedsburg senior Dylan Peterson runs the ball against Wisconsin Lutheran defenders during a playoff game in 2014 at Breitenbach Stadium in Middleton. The Middleton-Cross Plains School District is suing the maker of the stadium's artificial playing surface for failing to honor its warranty. 

The Middleton-Cross Plains School District has filed a federal lawsuit against the maker of the artificial playing surface at its football and soccer stadium, saying the maker hasn’t honored its warranty for the prematurely aging surface, despite knowing that it was made using defective material.

According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Madison, the district alleges that FieldTurf USA, a leading maker of artificial athletic playing surfaces used in high school, college and professional stadiums, has refused to replace the synthetic field on the district’s football and soccer field at Middleton’s Breitenbach Stadium, which cost the district $306,428 to install in 2007.

The district says that in 2014, FieldTurf settled a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the fiber that is used to make the playing surface for what is believed to be “tens of millions dollars,” to account for future claims of untimely wear from customers who bought the artificial turf.

“This case is one of those ‘future claims,’” the district’s lawsuit states.

“Despite knowing that the fiber used in its fields was defective, despite obtaining an undoubtedly large settlement from the manufacturer to account for claims related to this defective fiber, and despite the acknowledgment that the district’s field had deteriorated,” the lawsuit states, “FieldTurf has refused to repair or replace the district’s field.”

Instead, the district’s lawsuit states, FieldTurf has suggested that the district buy a new field from FieldTurf, “an astonishing proposal” given that FieldTurf’s warranty states that it would repair or replace the field “without charge.”

FieldTurf’s parent company, Tarkett, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Installation of the field came with an eight-year warranty for repair or replacement of defects, including premature wear.

By March 2011, the lawsuit states, FieldTurf had identified more than 100 of its artificial turf fields that were degrading prematurely, and subsequently identified a defect in the fiber used to make those fields. The lawsuit states that FieldTurf did not notify the district of more than 100 premature field failures involving the same fiber used in the Middleton district’s field.

In November 2014, the lawsuit states, FieldTurf acknowledged that the district’s field was showing “early signs of fiber degradation in the high traffic areas and slightly on the colored fibers,” and a consultant hired by the district recommended replacement of the field surface. But FieldTurf didn’t repair or replace the field, the lawsuit states, and instead has proposed to sell the district a new field surface for more than $350,000.


Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.