Statute of Repose Applied and Summary Judgment Granted

MASSACHUSETTS – On March 30, 2018, the U.S.D.C. for the District of Massachusetts held that Massachusetts’ statute of repose did not apply to asbestos exposure claims and denied the motion for summary judgment of General Electric (GE). The question was without controlling precedent, and was therefore certified to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. On Mach 1, 2019, the court ruled that the statute of repose “completely eliminates all tort claims arising out of any deficiency or neglect in the design, planning, construction, or general administration of an improvement to real property after the established time period has run” even if the cause of action arises from a disease with an extended latency period.

Based on that ruling, the plaintiffs conceded that GE’s motion for summary judgment was warranted on four counts. However, the plaintiffs argued that the breach of implied warranty of merchantability claim was still valid due to GE’s alleged selling and supplying of a defective product, namely the insulation on the turbines. The court relied on its prior holding that the insulation was an integral component of the turbines and found that GE’s role as a supplier of the insulation was merely “incidental.” The court leaned on prior precedent and held that plaintiffs cannot “recast their negligence claim in the form of a warranty claim.” Accordingly, the motion was granted on all counts and GE was dismissed from the matter.

Read the full case decision here.