Pleasant Grove Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Fieldturf USA Inc., 06-19-00022-CV

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Writing for the CourtOpinion on Remand by Chief Justice Morriss
Citation648 S.W.3d 608
Parties PLEASANT GROVE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, Appellant v. FIELDTURF USA INC. and Altech, Inc., Appellees
Docket Number06-19-00022-CV
Decision Date01 July 2022

648 S.W.3d 608

PLEASANT GROVE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, Appellant
v.
FIELDTURF USA INC. and Altech, Inc., Appellees

No. 06-19-00022-CV

Court of Appeals of Texas, Texarkana.

Date Submitted: May 3, 2022
Date Decided: July 1, 2022


Matthew R. Pearson, Valerie L. Cantu, Pearson Legal, PC, San Antonio, Brendan K. McBride, The McBride Law Firm, McAllen, for Appellant.

E. Leon Carter, Joshua Bennett, O. Rey Rodriguez, J. Robert Arnett II, Courtney Barksdale Perez, Carter Arnett, Dallas, for Appellee FieldTurf USA Inc.

Jeffrey C. Elliott, Elliott Law Firm, Texarkana, for Appellee Altech, Inc.

Before Morriss, C.J., Stevens and van Cleef, JJ.

OPINION ON REMAND

Opinion on Remand by Chief Justice Morriss

To build a new football stadium, Pleasant Grove Independent School District contracted with prime contractor Altech, Inc., whose subcontractors included FieldTurf USA, for the manufacture and provision of an artificial-turf field bearing the product name Prestige XM-60, with Duraspine fibers. Though the field's life was purported to be ten to twelve years and was warranted for eight years, the field started degrading within five years. A dispute arose over the turf, resulting in various claims among the District, Altech, and FieldTurf. Notwithstanding explicit contract language limiting FieldTurf's warranty to repair or replace defective turf, the District rejected FieldTurf's proposal to repair the field. Instead, the District decided to install a new field and then maintained at trial that it was entitled to damages measured by the turf's replacement cost. Fatally to its warranty claim, the District stood by that position by not introducing evidence for the statutorily sanctioned measure of damages.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Altech and partial summary judgment in favor of FieldTurf as to the District's fraud claims. The District's warranty claim against FieldTurf proceeded to trial, where the jury found that FieldTurf breached its warranty and awarded the District $175,000.00 in actual damages. Both the District and FieldTurf appealed to this Court. See Pleasant Grove Indep. Sch. Dist. v. FieldTurf USA , 634 S.W.3d 84 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2020), rev'd in part, FieldTurf USA v. Pleasant Grove Indep. Sch. Dist. , 642 S.W.3d 829 (Tex. 2022).

On appeal, we reversed Altech's summary judgment against the District as to the breach of warranty claim and affirmed FieldTurf's partial summary judgment against the District. Pleasant Grove Indep. Sch. Dist. , 634 S.W.3d at 95. Because we remanded the case for a new trial, we addressed neither the District's two points of error regarding the measure of damages and its motion for a new trial on attorney fees nor the five points of error raised in FieldTurf's cross-appeal regarding its motion for judgment notwithstanding the jury's verdict. Id. at 100. The parties appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, which affirmed our judgment as to the District's fraud claims, reversed our judgment in part, reinstated the trial court's award of summary judgment in favor of Altech, and reversed our decision to remand the case for a new trial, remanding it back to us so that we might consider the previously unaddressed points of error. FieldTurf USA , 642 S.W.3d 829.

648 S.W.3d 611

Here, on remand, we address FieldTurf's challenges to the jury's verdict against it on the warranty claim. We also address the District's argument on appeal that the jury was erroneously instructed on the measure of damages.

We reverse the jury's award of damages and render a take-nothing judgment in favor of FieldTurf because, (1) under the clear language of the warranty, repair and replacement were the exclusive remedies for breach of warranty; (2) the jury was properly instructed on damages; and (3) even if the District pled, proved, and obtained a jury finding that the warranty failed of its essential purpose, it failed to produce evidence of damages.

(1) Under the Clear Language of the Warranty, Repair and Replacement Were the Exclusive Remedies for Breach of Warranty

FieldTurf contends that the District was not entitled to recover money damages and that the trial court should have granted its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), because the District's sole remedy under the warranty and the Texas Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) was repair or replacement of the field. To put this in its full context, we offer the background of this case.

When the District decided to build a new football stadium and install a synthetic-turf field, it contracted with Altech to be the general contractor. Among the subcontractors was FieldTurf. In 2009, based on representations made by FieldTurf representatives, the District's governing board selected FieldTurf's Prestige XM-60 field with Duraspine fiber as its new synthetic-turf field. The turf materials were obtained from FieldTurf and were installed onto the field by a separate subcontractor.

The FieldTurf field was installed in the new football stadium between August and October 2009. FieldTurf provided an eight-year limited warranty on the artificial-turf field. FieldTurf's limited warranty for the field provided:

FIELDTURF warrants that if Prestige XM-60 for football, soccer, synthetic turf proves to be defective in material or workmanship, resulting in a loss of pile height greater than 50%, during normal and ordinary use of the Product for the sporting activities set out below or for any other uses for which FIELDTURF gives its written authorization, within 8 years from the date of completion of installation, FIELDTURF will, at FIELDTURF's option, either repair or replace the affected area without charge to the extent required to meet the warranty period (but no cash refunds will be made) .... This warranty is limited to the remedies of repair or replacement, which shall constitute exclusive remedies available under this warranty, and all other remedies or recourses which might otherwise be available are hereby waived by [the District]. FIELDTURF will have no other obligations or liability for damages arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of the product including but without limitation, damages for personal injury or economic losses.

The warranty period officially began on or about April 14, 2010.

Around June 2014, the District personnel notified FieldTurf that the field was degrading and its fibers were becoming brittle, causing color loss and loss of traction. In July, Ross Wittig, a FieldTurf representative, personally walked the field and took photos of it. During Wittig's subsequent "off the record" conversation with Josh Gibson, who had, in 2014, replaced Davis as coach and athletic director, and Steve Shatto, the District's maintenance

648 S.W.3d 612

director, Wittig admitted that the field was "in bad condition" and that

FieldTurf ha[d] multiple fields that [were] failing. They[ were] failing at -- at a large rate all over the United States. There [were] some schools that [were] getting these fields replaced; that they[ had] just started turning down, you know, people. And so his advice to us was that the squeakiest wheel -- those were his words: the squeakiest wheel [was] going to get attention, and -- and, you know, we needed to raise a fuss about our product.

Wittig emailed FieldTurf regarding the field's condition, confirming to FieldTurf that "[t]here [were] some safety concerns," that the gold-colored fibers in the end zones "ha[d] about disappeared," that "[m]any inlays [were] separating," and that the field's white lines were beginning to disappear.

Because the District continued to complain about the field's condition, Todd Bresee, FieldTurf's designated Duraspine field evaluator, inspected the field in September 2014. In Bresee's resulting report, he concluded that the field was "showing signs of accelerated wear in all the fiber colors" between the football field's numbers, that there were "large amounts of broken fiber on the surface," and that the "gold fiber [was] broken completely down to the top of the infill." Bresee stated that the green fibers, which comprised most of the field, were in poor or fair condition, that all the gold fibers were in poor condition, that only the black fibers in the end zone and in the field logo were found to be in good condition, and that none of the fibers were found to be in very good or excellent condition. His report to FieldTurf included the following comments:

The field has a large amount of broken fiber on it. The AD showed me pics of this fiber clogging up his players cleats when the field is wet. Owner is also upset with the amount of fiber that has to be cleaned out of the locker room each day. I was on my knees taking pictures and when I stood up I was covered with the green field fiber. Owner took pics of my pants covered with the fiber. This field needs to be cleaned and loose fiber removed.

Gibson testified that the field was the worst he had ever seen, that it was covered in broken and split fibers, and that it had become a safety issue due to the layer of broken fibers making the field slippery. Gibson testified that Bresee agreed with his conclusion that the field was in "bad shape."

During the last three months of 2014, the...

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