Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled in a split decision, holding that consumers are limited to six years from the date of substantial completion to sue for unfair business practices relating to shoddy construction. This decision affirmed that claims brought under the state’s consumer protection law are not immune to a blanket statute of repose. In addition, the Court held that the statute of repose time bar applies to consumers alleging unfair or deceptive business practices under M.G.L. c.93A.
In the underlying case, issue arose when the cause of Plaintiff, Bridgwood’s, 2012 house fire was tied to shoddy electrical wiring by the Defendant, which was completed in 2001, resulting from failures to abide by building regulations and permitting. Despite the unanticipated fire, the Court enforced the six-year statute of repose in an attempt to honor the intent of the Legislature. In a highly controversial decision, the majority reasoned that to create an exception for 93A claims, by allowing plaintiffs to ignore the statute of repose, would disregard the legislative intent and deprive contractors of relevant statutory protections. Thus, Bridgwood’s complaint was nine years too late for relief to be granted.