Injured Texans Punter Kicks Back at Reliant Stadium Owners Over Unsafe Turf
Former Houston Texans punter Brett Hartmann sued the owners of Reliant Stadium for negligence over the career-threatening knee injury he sustained last December due to allegedly “unsafe turf.”
The grass at Reliant Stadium is laid out in approximately 1,200 8′ x 8′ squares, which creates thousands of seams that threaten players’ safety, one of which resulted in Hartmann’s injury. Grass turf in most other stadiums consist of a single piece, posing little to no threat of unexpectedly snagging a player’s foot. Hartmann alleges that the owners failed to satisfy their duty to provide “players with a reasonably safe playing surface, including preventing unreasonable risks of harm” because of the thousands of seams in the field at Reliant Stadium.
Hartmann was not the only NFL player to sustain an injury at Reliant Stadium. In 2009, the New England Patriots wide-receiver Wes Welker suffered a similar knee injury on Reliant Stadium’s turf. Hartmann’s attorney, Gene Egdorf, pointed out that many NFL coaches hate playing at Reliant Stadium because of the inherent safety risks associated with the field.
After Hartmann’s doctor diagnosed him with a torn ACL and a fractured lower leg, the Texans cut Hartmann from their roster in August 2012. According to the papers filed by Egdorf, several of Hartmann’s doctors told him that his knee remains “unstable” and that he needs “additional surgery, possibly quite extensive.” Hartmann was the NFL’s lead rookie punter at the time of his injury, but now fears that his career with the League is over.
According to Egdorf, Hartmann “has no ill will toward the Texans.” But rather, Hartmann “wishes he was with his teammates and hopes this action will help keep his teammates safe for the rest of this season and into the future.”