Reliant Stadium sued for poor turf conditions

January 9, 2013  - By

A former punter for the National Football League’s Houston Texans has filed a state district court lawsuit against the owners and managers of Reliant Stadium, based on claims that the stadium’s poor field conditions caused him to suffer a career-threatening leg injury.

Brett Hartmann was the NFL’s leading rookie punter when the Texans played the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 4, 2011. In the game’s closing moments, Hartmann was running down the field when his foot became wedged in a seam between two pieces of the field’s grass turf. Video replays clearly show Hartmann stepping into the seam before falling to the field in agony.

Hartmann’s injury required two extensive surgeries, and he currently faces additional medical procedures that may require a bone in his injured leg to be surgically broken. The Texans cut Hartmann from this year’s roster in August, and he has not played in an NFL game since being injured.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Hartmann by noted Houston attorney Gene Egdorf of The Lanier Law Firm includes claims that Reliant Stadium officials have known about the turf problem since shortly after the stadium opened in 2008.

“The turf at Reliant Stadium is among the worst in the National Football League in terms of player safety, which is simply inexcusable,” says Egdorf. “The poor field conditions at Reliant have been an open secret that the facility’s owners and managers have known about for years. Brett’s hope is that his lawsuit will prevent other players from suffering needless similar injuries in the future.”

The Reliant field consists of hundreds of individual pieces of grass turf that are wedged together to cover the stadium floor. The field’s seams have been blamed for causing numerous injuries, including a severe knee injury suffered by New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker in 2009. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called the Reliant Stadium field “one of the worst fields I’ve ever seen.” Former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy was quoted as saying that Colts players were “definitely concerned about the injury factor” based on the stadium’s poor field conditions.

The lawsuit is Brett Hartmann v. SMG and Harris County Convention & Sports Corp., No. 2012-67930, in the 334th District Court in Houston.

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