Massachusetts AG, alliance at odds over next steps in court case on revised ‘right to repair’ law

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Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation are at odds over the next steps in an ongoing lawsuit concerning updates to the state’s “right to repair” law.

Automakers represented by the alliance filed the lawsuit against Healey in November 2020 after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure revising and expanding the state’s existing law.

The revised law — referred to as the Data Access Law in the lawsuit — requires makers of vehicles sold in Massachusetts to use a standardized, open-access data platform for telematics-equipped vehicles beginning with the 2022 model year. It also gives vehicle owners and independent repair shops access to real-time information from the telematics, such as crash notifications, remote diagnostics and navigation.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock this month asked Healey and the alliance for further submissions on two outstanding issues in the case — their interpretation of the updated law’s language and any steps taken by automakers to implement the law’s requirements.

In court documents filed Friday, Healey said the parties “have not agreed on a joint proposal” regarding those issues and also disagree on the scheduling order for future deadlines.

According to the filing, Healey specifically wants two of the alliance’s members — FCA U.S., now Stellantis, and General Motors — to “identify steps taken, funds spent and personnel involved in researching and developing methods of compliance” with certain sections of the law.

In its filing, the alliance argues the attorney general’s interpretation of the revised law’s terms and provisions “largely reiterates the attorney general’s litigation positions at trial, avoids interpreting certain provisions of the Data Access Law entirely, and in many places fails to provide any meaningful, practical interpretation.”

Since January, the judge has postponed a decision on the nearly two-year-old court case multiple times.

Two automakers — Subaru and Kia — have disabled the telematics systems in 2022 model year and newer vehicles registered in Massachusetts to avoid compliance hiccups amid the ongoing legal battle.

The alliance maintains its argument that the state’s amended law conflicts with several federal laws, poses cybersecurity and vehicle safety risks, and sets an impossible timeline for compliance.

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