Massachusetts Repair Law Case Looks Almost Ripe for Decision | Seyfarth Shaw LLP


The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation quietly filed a stipulation the day after Thanksgiving in Alliance for Automotive Innovation c. Healy, a lawsuit challenging recent changes to Massachusetts Right to Repair Act (the “Data Act”). The stipulation seems to resolve a challenge to the evidence between the parties in October regarding the ability of OEMs to comply with recent changes to the data law. With the possible exception of responses to interrogations served by the Attorney General on automotive innovators, the stipulation also appears to address the issues that prevented a Massachusetts federal court judge from making his long-awaited decision in the aftermath of ‘a court trial held last summer. .

Auto Innovators’ lawsuit calls for injunction with the exception of the data law enforcement and its requirement that, as of model year 2022 (“MY22”), vehicles sold in Massachusetts using telematics systems be equipped with a “Interoperable, standardized and open access platform” that will allow customers and independent repair shops to access the mechanical data of these systems. In a stipulation filed Friday, November 26, the Attorney General and Auto Innovators agreed that Subaru of America is a member of Auto Innovators and is the supplier of Subaru vehicles to another independently owned and operated entity that distributes these vehicles to d ‘other independent owners and dealers operating in New England. The parties further stipulated that as a direct consequence of the data law, Subaru decided not to manufacture its Starlink system, a telematics system which “includes features such as automatic collision notification, assistance from SOS emergency, remote engine start, remote door lock / unlock, stolen vehicle recovery, enhanced roadside assistance, maintenance notification, vehicle status reports and diagnostic reports ”—available to residents of Massachusetts who buy or lease Subaru MY22 vehicles.

As per the stipulation, Subaru implemented this policy around June 2021, at the same time that Subaru MY22 vehicles were first offered for sale or lease in Massachusetts. The policy applies to any Subaru MY22 vehicle with an address in Massachusetts associated with the vehicle or Starlink account; Regardless of the state in which the vehicle was originally purchased or leased, associated vehicles in Massachusetts cannot subscribe or maintain a Starlink subscription. The policy does not apply to Subaru MY22 vehicles that do not have a Massachusetts address associated with the vehicle or Starlink account; Regardless of the state in which the vehicle was originally purchased or leased, vehicles not associated with Massachusetts retain the option of purchasing or maintaining a Starlink subscription. The parties further stipulated that Subaru vehicles not registered with the Starlink system are safe; that when the vehicles are sold to consumers, these vehicles comply with all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards and the Clean Air Act; and that if Auto Innovators wins in the current lawsuit and “the [Data Law] is invalidated by court ”, then Subaru intends to begin offering Starlink subscriptions on MY22 vehicles in Massachusetts.

With the possible exception of responses to inquiries provided by the Attorney General on automotive innovators, the stipulation appears to resolve issues raised in a motion filed by the Attorney General on October 25 to reopen evidence in the case. to show that OEMs can comply with data law by disabling telematics systems in MY22 and later vehicles sold in Massachusetts. Before the petition was filed, the court had told the parties that it would render a decision in the case by November 2, but at a hearing on October 27, the court ordered the parties to propose how they could complete the file. With the record now completed with a stipulation, the record in court would appear to be nearly complete and the case almost ripe for decision. Waiting for, legislation amend the data law to extend the compliance deadline until MY25 remains under review by a committee of the Massachusetts legislature.


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