Cushion Track Blames Others for SA Woes

Cushion Track adds defendants to lawsuit filed by Los Angeles Turf Club.

Cushion Track ended speculation it would add third-party defendants to its case with the Los Angeles Turf Club, charging several contracted companies with fault in the development of the former troubled synthetic surface at Santa Anita Park.

Six Southern California companies have been added as cross-defendants to the federal lawsuit originally filed by LATC in May, which seeks at least $8.4 million in damages from Cushion Track and affiliated defendants. LATC, which operates Santa Anita as a subsidiary of Magna Entertainment Corp., claims faulty installation and maintenance of the surface by Cushion Track resulted in lost training and racing days, as well as repair costs.

While again disputing the claims made by LATC in its complaint, Cushion Track casts any judged blame on the new defendants, which include an engineering company, a sand materials supplier, and four asphalt products suppliers.

 “If (the Cushion Track defendants) are held liable and responsible to LATC for damages as alleged in LATC's complaint, it will be due to third-party defendants’ conduct,” said a court document filed Dec. 2 in U.S. District Court Central District of California. “ … Third party defendants, are jointly, and severally liable to LATC for any and all of the damages suffered by LATC.”

Cushion Track, which has also filed a cross-claim against LATC for certain damages, alleges, in part, that despite its objections and/or apprehensions:

* Sand used to blend with the synthetic material came from California, and not from the United Kingdom, which the company said was its “usual practice,” and that the sand had too much silt and clay;

* The company was prevented from a timely testing of asphalt materials, claiming it was given samples just four hours before the base was installed;

* The asphalt base was then installed, despite the company's "expressed" concern with its ability to properly drain;

* The synthetic material was installed just a few hours after the base was rolled out, while the asphalt was still hot.

“(The third-party defendants) failed to properly manufacture the construction materials they provided ... and each of them negligently supplied the construction materials so as to necessitate various defects in the construction materials,” the complaint said.

Officials with Koch-Armstrong General Engineering, which the complaint alleged was hired by LATC to serve as general contractor of the project, did not immediately return a call seeking reaction to the lawsuit. An official with P.W. Gillibrand Co., which allegedly supplied the sand, said the company had not received a copy of the complaint, and declined to comment.

Cushion Track previously tried to have the LATC lawsuit dismissed, a request that was denied by a federal judge. The company, which is based in Ocala, Fla., indicated in September it would possible add other defendants to the lawsuit.