Armstrong In Dispute With Texas Turf Firm

Lancaster, PA, Dec. 2--Armstrong is asking U.S. Bankruptcy Court to order SRI Sports to substantiate a claim that Armstrong owes it $10 million in damages, according to the Lancaster New Era. The claim, Armstrong contends in a court filing this week, really is an attempt by SRI to avoid paying $6.3 million it owes Armstrong. The dispute is rooted in Armstrong's 1999 sale of its Martin Surfacing division to SRI, formerly Southwest Recreational Industries. SRI, best known as the maker of AstroTurf, bought Martin Surfacing, also a maker of artificial sports surfaces, for $14 million. SRI alleges that Armstrong failed to honor warranties on Martin Surfacing jobs done before the acquisition, forcing SRI to repair installations for 21 customers at a cost of $309,000. Because Armstrong failed to honor the warranties, SRI's reputation was damaged so badly that it lost $10 million in sales, SRI argues. Armstrong counters that it already gave $500,000 to SRI to cover the warranty work and, now that it's in bankruptcy, any more such payments are frozen. But SRI has yet to give Armstrong any specific evidence that it lost sales because of the warranty issue, says Armstrong. Armstrong says it's asked repeatedly to talk to an SRI corporate officer who can support SRI's stance, but SRI keeps saying the witness and his attorney don't have time. SRI also has failed to produce any documents that support the $10 million claim, says Armstrong. Those failures make Armstrong believe the claim of lost sales is an attempt to avoid paying Armstrong the remaining $6.3 million owed on the Martin Surfacing acquisition. SRI defaulted on that payment Oct. 31, says Armstrong. Besides making AstroTurf, SRI, of Leander, Texas, also makes AstroPlay and NeXturf artificial sports turfs. AstroTurf and NeXturf were installed in Veterans Stadium, the former home of the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies. Lancaster-based Armstrong filed for bankruptcy in December 2000 to resolve a flood of asbestos personal-injury claims stemming from exposure to asbestos insulation Armstrong once installed.

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