Massachusetts Statute of Limitations for Judgments

Massachusetts laws regarding statute of limitations vary based on the type of contract or action involved. Statute of limitations refers to the length of time for filing lawsuits or for enforcing judgments that are the result of a lawsuit. Massachusetts has one of the longest lifespans for judgments of all 50 states. The judgment is presumed satisfied after it expires.

What Is Statute of Limitations?

Statute of limitations is a period of time during which lawsuits may be filed for civil procedures or during which the state may prosecute for criminal activities. Each state sets forth specific statutes limiting the time frames for civil filings and prosecution. In Massachusetts and other states, the statutes of limitation for civil contracts, such as credit card agreements, varies based on the type of contract involved. The state statute of limitations may be used as an affirmative defense in a lawsuit.

What Is a Judgment?

A judgment is the result of a civil lawsuit, often for delinquent debts and other credit accounts. Two common types of judgments in Massachusetts relating to civil lawsuits are summary judgments and default judgments. Summary judgments are final decisions made by the judge based on the evidence before a hearing or trial. Default judgments are issued by the judge when one party fails to defend or pursue the claims made in the lawsuit.

Statute of Limitations for Lawsuit

Massachusetts statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit on open contracts — credit cards — is six years. Sales contracts carry a four year statute of limitation and specialty contracts under seal carry a 20 year statute of limitation. If a creditor or other party to a contract brings a lawsuit against the borrower or second party to the contract after the statute of limitations has expired, the lawsuit can still be decided in favor of the originating party unless the defendant submits an affirmative defense based on the statute of limitations.

Time-Frame for Judgment

Once a judgment is issued in the state of Massachusetts, it is valid for 20 years. This means that the winning party has 20 years to pursue collection by means of bank account levy, real property liens and property seizures. The judgment can also remain listed on the losing defendant’s credit report for the 20 year time frame. In Massachusetts, judgments carry a 12 percent rate of interest until satisfied.

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About the Author

Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home-improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost-effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.