OEMs Will Have To Wait Another Month for Decision In Massachusetts Right to Repair Case

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

On March 8, 2022, the Massachusetts federal court in Alliance for Automotive Innovation v. Healy issued a procedural order informing the parties that the court would need another month to issue a decision on a challenge brought by an industry trade association to a right to repair ballot initiative passed by Massachusetts voters in November 2020. The case involves a challenge to the Massachusetts Right to Repair Law, which requires that commencing with Model Year 2022 (MY22), vehicles sold in Massachusetts using telematics systems be equipped with “an inter-operable, standardized and open access platform” to enable customers and independent repair shops to access mechanical data from those systems.  

Judge Douglas Woodlock held a week-long bench trial last June, during which the industry offered evidence that compliance with these requirements by MY22 would be impossible, while the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office argued that automakers could comply with the new law by simply disabling telematics systems installed in vehicles sold in Massachusetts.  It appeared at the time that the court would enter a ruling soon after the trial, but the Massachusetts Attorney General sought and obtained leave to reopen evidence in the case in October 2021, pointing to the decision by some manufacturers to disable the telematics systems in MY22 vehicles sold in Massachusetts as evidence that it was not impossible for OEMs to comply with the new law.

After receiving further evidence from the parties in January 2022, Judge Woodlock had previously advised the parties that he expected to issue a decision by March 7, 2022.  In his latest order, however, Judge Woodlock advised the parties that “unforeseen and unforeseeable circumstances, principally involving supervening but insistent writing responsibilities in other matters,” had prevented him from being able to meet his self-imposed deadline,” but assured them that by April 15, 2022 he anticipated being able to issue a “fully satisfactory opinion . . . bringing this case at last to an appealable final judgment.”  Meanwhile, there has been no action in the Massachusetts Legislature on pending legislation that would push the deadline for OEMs to comply with the Right to Repair Law until Model Year 2025.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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