Legal Memorandum: Statutes of Limitations and Repose in MA

Issue: Under Massachusetts law, what is the difference between statute of limitations and statute of repose?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Statute of limitations; Statute of repose
Jurisdiction: Massachusetts
Cited Cases: 710 F. Supp. 864; 671 F. Supp. 94; 486 N.E.2d 58; 488 N.E.2d 1179; 21 Mass. App. Ct. 170
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 04/01/2001

           In Massachusetts, statutes of limitations are considered procedural rather than substantive for purposes of choice-of-law analysis.  Wilson v. Hammer Holdings, Inc., 671 F. Supp. 94, 96 (D. Mass. 1987), aff’d, 850 F.2d 3 (1st Cir. 1988).  Unlike a statute of limitations, which bars a cause of action if not brought within a certain period, a statute of repose prevents the cause of action from arising after expiration of a certain period.  Alves v. Siegel’s Broadway Auto Parts, Inc., 710 F. Supp. 864, 869 (D. Mass. 1989); James Ferrera & Sons, Inc. v. Samuels, 21 Mass. App. Ct. 170, 486 N.E.2d 58, 61 (1985), rev. denied, 396 Mass. 1106, 488 N.E.2d 1179 (1986).  The Alves court concluded that although the matter had not been specifically addressed in Massachusetts, case law supported a conclusion that Massachusetts courts would treat a statute of repose as substantive, not procedural.  Alves, 710 F. Supp. at 869.


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