The federal judge in the closely watched Massachusetts “Right to Repair” lawsuit has again postponed his decision, citing other obligations.
In a procedural order issued Friday, the date his ruling had been expected, U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock said he would instead issue his findings and conclusion by July 1.
It was the third time Woodlock had postponed his ruling in the lawsuit, brought by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) in November 2020 over provisions of the Massachusetts Data Access law approved by voters earlier that month.
“The resurgence of a demanding criminal trial schedule, together with the parallel resumption of long delayed in-court non-trial proceedings when coupled with continuing insistent writing responsibilities in other matters, requires me regretfully to advise the parties that the date by which I can fairly commit to the filing of Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law to resolve this matter on the merits in this court must again be extended,” Woodlock wrote.
Under Section 2 of the amended law, any OEM that sells a vehicle in the state that utilizes a telematics system “shall be required to equip such vehicles with an inter-operable, standardized and open access platform across all of the manufacturer’s makes and models.” The legislation became effective with the 2022 model year.
AAI claims that, among other things, the deadline was impossible to meet, and that OEMs could not comply with the law without violating federal safety and environmental laws.
The legislation, which amends the state’s existing right-to-repair law, has not been enforced, pending the AAI’s legal challenge, which asks Woodlock to permanently enjoin enforcement.
At issue in the case is whether disabling telematics on vehicles sold in Massachusetts, as Subaru and Kia have done, constitutes compliance with the law. Attorney General Maura Healey, defending the law, has argued that it does; AAI has countered that Subaru and Kia have merely “avoided” the law. “[T]urning off telematics simply does not create [the required] platform — let alone by model year 2022,” the Alliance wrote in a brief.
Woodlock had previously set a Nov. 2, 2021 deadline for issuing a decision, but postponed that date to accept post-trial evidence after Healey’s office brought the actions by Subaru and Kia to light. He subsequently set deadlines of March 7 and April 15.
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