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Can fraudulent advertisements lead to a defective product claim?

What's the difference between a truly defective product and one that just isn't as good as the manufacturer claims?

It depends largely on how concrete the claims were that the manufacturer made when he or she sold you the product.

Companies often slightly exaggerate the value of their product in small, subjective ways—but they run into trouble when they make objective statements that can be verified and those objective statements come up short when tested. The difference between mere "puffery," which is allowed on a limited basis by the law, and actual misrepresentation or deceit, which isn't, comes down to statements that are arguably just someone's opinion over statements of fact.

There's good news, though, if you believe that you've been taken in by someone's fraudulent advertisements: A valid product liability claim can be based on just false or misleading information—without having to prove that the product itself is actually defective.

For example, artificial turf fields may provide fertile grounds for a number of future product liability claims—especially now that information has come to light that the number one provider of artificial turf in the country has known for about a decade that it's product wasn't able to meet its claims.

Among allegations raised by investigators is that the company knew that the fields, which were sold to small towns and NFL teams alike at a cost of $300,000-$500,000, were cracking and breaking apart long before they should. Yet, the company never changed its sales pitch and even considered covering up (by outright deleting) internal emails that an attorney warned them could be damaging if uncovered in a lawsuit.

The company also failed to warn any of its customers about their product's problems or what warning signs to look for that indicated the turf was developing a problem. Customers that did complain found the company less-than-receptive to their complaints—they were told that the deterioration was normal and that they needed to do more maintenance.

You may not be able to tell for sure if a product is genuinely defective or not—but you probably do know if you've been misled and you relied on those misleading statements when you made your decision to purchase a product. If, like those who have purchased these artificial fields, you've suffered a serious financial loss, consider consulting an attorney.

Source: FindlLaw, "Legal Basis for Liability in Product Cases," accessed Dec. 09, 2016

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