THOMAS R. GLIOTTONE, JR.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY & others.
September 13, 2018.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on July 25,
motion for summary judgment was heard by Angel Kelley Brown,
J.; a motion for summary judgment was heard by Rosalind H.
Miller, J., and the entry of judgment was ordered by her.
Christopher M. Lefebvre (Clovis C. Gregor, of Rhode Island,
also present) for the plaintiff.
Michelle I. Schaffer for Ford Motor Company & another.
Ronald P. Langlois for Tasca Automotive Group, Inc.
Present: Rubin, Sacks, & Shin, JJ.
case requires us to decide whether a plaintiff suing under
the Massachusetts Lemon Law, G. L. c. 90, § 7N 1/2, must
introduce expert testimony to prove that the subject vehicle
did not comply with the applicable express or implied
warranties. A judge of the Superior Court answered this
question in the affirmative and on this basis granted summary
judgment in favor of defendant Ford Motor Company
(Ford). We disagree and therefore, for the
reasons set out infra, vacate the judgment entered
in favor of all the defendants.
summarize the facts, many of which are disputed, in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, here the plaintiff,
Thomas R. Gliottone, Jr., in accordance with the traditional
standard for summary judgment. See Augat, Inc.
v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 410 Mass. 117, 120 (1991).
Under that standard, summary judgment is appropriate only
when "viewing the evidence in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party, all material facts have been
established and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as
a matter of law." Id. Our review of the summary
judgment is de novo. See Miller v. Cotter,
448 Mass. 671, 676 (2007).
23, 2010, Gliottone bought a 2010 Ford F-150 pickup truck
from defendant Rodman Ford Sales, Inc. (Rodman), an
authorized dealer of Ford vehicles located in Foxborough,
Massachusetts. The vehicle, manufactured by Ford, came with a
limited warranty that covered manufacturing defects. Shortly
after the purchase, the truck began exhibiting mechanical
problems: the truck would not start, it would stall, it
experienced loss of power, and the on-board diagnostic panel
would show that it was in "wrench" mode. Gliottone
contacted Ford's roadside assistance, which instructed
him to bring the vehicle to defendant Tasca Automotive Group,
Inc. (Tasca), a different authorized Ford dealer located in
Cranston, Rhode Island. He did so on or about August 14,
2010, and Tasca representatives told him that installing a
supercharger would solve the mechanical problems and would
not adversely affect his warranty. Gliottone agreed to pay
for the supercharger, which cost $8, 038.68 for parts and
labor. The invoice for this service shows that the truck had
been driven 1, 461 miles and was ready for pickup on
September 24, 2010. Ford disputes that the supercharger was
an authorized repair, but we are reviewing a motion for
summary judgment and there is sufficient evidence to support
a finding that it was: the invoice states that the
supercharger was installed for "engine repair."
Ford also continued to pay for warranty services for problems
it blames on the supercharger even though it would have had
no obligation to do so under the warranty if the malfunctions
were caused by a "modification."
to Gliottone, the vehicle's wrench mode reactivated and
the same mechanical problems with failing to start, power
loss, and stalling resurfaced in October of 2010. These
issues would also occur when the vehicle's "hill
descent" and "tow haul" modes were activated.
He took the vehicle back to Tasca on October 20, 2010, and
the vehicle remained out of service for ten
truck's problems did not end here. It was towed to Tasca
on May 16, 2011, apparently through Ford's roadside
assistance hotline, because it would crank but not
start. By May 19, Tasca had replaced the
truck's throttle position sensor and the truck was ready
to be picked up.
then returned to Tasca on June 1, 2011, because, again, the
truck would crank but not start. Tasca kept the truck until
June 24 and replaced the fuel pump.
again returned to Tasca on August 3, 2011, this time because,
when he drove the truck, the hill descent light would
illuminate and the truck would lose power. It would also idle
"rough." After also discovering problems with the
accelerator pedal, Tasca eventually replaced a power ...