|sports arena today is whether artificial turf should continue to be used as a playing surface. Coaches and trainers report numerous artificial turf- related injuries including heat strokes and exhaustion, turf toe (i.e., sprained great toe), concussions, ankle and knee injuries, first- and second-degree burns, secondary infections, blisters, and dehydration. Despite these injuries, the use of artificial turf has been justified because it results in an increase in the players' speed, lowers maintenance costs, and increases use of the playing facilities.|
As of this writing, there has been no litigation of this actual issue. But athletes are suing increasingly for injuries resulting from a defective product, so such a suit is likely to occur in the near future. If a player does decide to bring a products liability suit, he may have a cause of action under the theories of (1) negligence, (2) breach of warranty, and/or (3) strict liability.
Under a negligence theory, those responsible for the decision to use artificial turf could be held liable for an athlete's injuries for breach of duty to exercise reasonable care for the athlete's protection. Team owners, stadium owners, universities, and colleges could be found negligent for breaching their duties to provide protection against any unreasonable risk of harm to the athlete. Finally, a manufacturer might be negligent for failing to exercise reasonable care in the manufacture and sale of the turf.
Warranty theories may be premised on two separate grounds. Manufacturers of artificial turf create an express warranty if they tell buyers that the turf is "safer than grass." An athlete who relies on this statement and is then injured may sue the manufacturer for breach of an express warranty. Athletes may also have a cause of action for breach of an implied warranty if artificial turf is not suitable for the purpose for which it is sold.
Finally, a manufacturer is subject to a charge of strict liability for developing and selling a product that is unreasonably dangerous because of a defective condition. If the athlete is injured, the doctrine applies even if the manufacturer is not negligent.
Epstein Robert K., "The Case Against Artificial Turf," 13 TRIAL, January 1977, at 42.
Mandel Bernard, "Negligent Design of Sports Facilities," 16 CLEVELAND- MARSHALL LAW REVIEW275 ( 1967).
Peters George A., "Unsafe Swimming Pools and Spas Claim Unsuspecting Victims," 16 TRIAL, March 1980, at 42.