Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 775 (enr) To establish certain procedures for civil actions brought for damages relating to the failure of any device or system to process or otherwise deal with the transition from the year 1999 to the year 2000, and for other purposes. [Enrolled bi...

H.R. 775 (enr) To establish certain procedures for civil actions brought for damages relating to the failure of any device or system to process or otherwise deal with the transition from the year 1999 to the year 2000, and for other purposes. [Enrolled bi...


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106th CONGRESS

  1st Session

                               H. R. 775

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT

 To establish certain procedures for civil actions brought for damages 
relating to the failure of any device or system to process or otherwise 
 deal with the transition from the year 1999 to the year 2000, and for 
                            other purposes.
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
106th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 775

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
 To establish certain procedures for civil actions brought for damages 
relating to the failure of any device or system to process or otherwise 
 deal with the transition from the year 1999 to the year 2000, and for 
                            other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Year 2000 Readiness and 
Responsibility Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds the following:
            (1) The Congress seeks to encourage businesses to 
        concentrate their attention and resources in the short time 
        remaining before January 1, 2000, on addressing, assessing, 
        remediating, and testing their year 2000 problems, and to 
        minimize any possible business disruptions associated with year 
        2000 issues.
            (2) It is appropriate for the Congress to enact legislation 
        to assure that year 2000 problems do not unnecessarily disrupt 
        interstate commerce or create unnecessary case loads in Federal 
        and State courts and to provide initiatives to help businesses 
        prepare and be in a position to withstand the potentially 
        devastating economic impact of the year 2000 problem.
            (3) Year 2000 issues will affect practically all business 
        enterprises to some degree, giving rise to a large number of 
        disputes.
            (4) Resorting to the legal system for resolution of year 
        2000 problems is not feasible for many businesses, particularly 
        small businesses, because of its complexity and expense.
            (5) The delays, expense, uncertainties, loss of control, 
        adverse publicity and animosities that frequently accompany 
        litigation of business disputes can only exacerbate the 
        difficulties associated with the year 2000 date change, and 
        work against the successful resolution of those difficulties.
            (6) The Congress recognizes that every business in the 
        United States should be concerned that widespread and 
        protracted year 2000 litigation may threaten the network of 
        valued and trusted business relationships that are so important 
        to the effective functioning of the world economy, and which 
        may put unbearable strains on an overburdened judicial system.
            (7) A proliferation of frivolous year 2000 actions by 
        opportunistic parties may further limit access to courts by 
        straining the resources of the legal system and depriving 
        deserving parties of their legitimate rights to relief.
            (8) The Congress encourages businesses to approach their 
        year 2000 disputes responsibly, and to avoid unnecessary, time-
        consuming and costly litigation based on year 2000 failures. 
        Congress supports good faith negotiations between parties when 
        there is a dispute over a year 2000 problem, and, if necessary, 
        urges the parties to enter into voluntary, non-binding 
        mediation rather than litigation.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Contract.--The term ``contract'' means a contract, 
        tariff, license, or warranty.
            (2) Damages.--The term ``damages'' means punitive, 
        compensatory, and restitutionary relief.
            (3) Defendant.--The term ``defendant'' means any person 
        against whom a year 2000 claim has been asserted.
            (4) Economic loss.--The term ``economic loss''--
                    (A) means any damages other than damages arising 
                out of personal injury or damage to tangible property; 
                and
                    (B) includes, but is not limited to, damages for 
                lost profits or sales, for business interruption, for 
                losses indirectly suffered as a result of the 
                defendant's wrongful act or omission, for losses that 
                arise because of the claims of third parties, for 
                losses that must be pleaded as special damages, and 
                consequential damages (as defined in the Uniform 
                Commercial Code or analogous State commercial law).
            (5) Governmental entity.--The term ``governmental entity'' 
        means an agency, instrumentality, other entity, or official of 
        Federal, State, or local government (including 
        multijurisdictional agencies, instrumentalities, and entities).
            (6) Material defect.--The term ``material defect'' means a 
        defect in any item, whether tangible or intangible, or in the 
        provision of a service, that substantially prevents the item or 
        service from operating or functioning as designed or intended. 
        The term ``material defect'' does not include a defect that has 
        an insignificant or de minimis effect on the operation or 
        functioning of an item, that affects only a component of an 
        item that, as a whole, substantially operates or functions as 
        designed, or that has an insignificant or de minimis effect on 
        the efficacy of the service provided.
            (7) Person.--The term ``person'' means any natural person 
        and any entity, organization, or enterprise, including but not 
        limited to corporations, companies, joint stock companies, 
        associations, partnerships, trusts, and governmental entities.
            (8) Personal injury.--The term ``personal injury'' means 
        any physical injury to a natural person, including death of the 
        person, and mental suffering, emotional distress, or like 
        elements of injury suffered by a natural person in connection 
        with a physical injury.
            (9) Plaintiff.--The term ``plaintiff'' means any person who 
        asserts a year 2000 claim.
            (10) Punitive damages.--The term ``punitive damages'' means 
        damages that are awarded against any person to punish such 
        person or to deter such person, or others, from engaging in 
        similar behavior in the future.
            (11) State.--The term ``State'' means any State of the 
        United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of 
        Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the United States 
        Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and any other territory 
        or possession of the United States, and any political 
        subdivision thereof.
            (12) Year 2000 action.--The term ``year 2000 action'' means 
        any civil action of any kind brought in any court under Federal 
        or State law, or an agency board of contract appeal proceeding, 
        in which a year 2000 claim is asserted.
            (13) Year 2000 claim.--The term ``year 2000 claim''--
                    (A) means any claim or cause of action of any kind, 
                other than a claim based on personal injury, whether 
                asserted by way of claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, 
                third-party claim, defense, or otherwise, in which the 
                plaintiff's alleged loss or harm resulted, directly or 
                indirectly, from a year 2000 failure;
                    (B) includes a claim brought in any Federal or 
                State court by a governmental entity when acting in a 
                commercial or contracting capacity; and
                    (C) does not include a claim brought by such a 
                governmental entity acting in a regulatory, 
                supervisory, or enforcement capacity.
            (14) Year 2000 failure.--The term ``year 2000 failure'' 
        means any failure by any device or system (including, without 
        limitation, any computer system and any microchip or integrated 
        circuit embedded in another device or product), or any 
        software, firmware, or other set or collection of processing 
        instructions, however constructed, in processing, calculating, 
        comparing, sequencing, displaying, storing, transmitting, or 
        receiving year 2000 date-related data.

SEC. 4. APPLICATION OF ACT.

    (a) General Rule.--This Act applies to any year 2000 claim brought 
after January 1, 1999, including any appeal, remand, stay, or other 
judicial, administrative, or alternative dispute resolution proceeding 
with respect to such claim.
    (b) No New Cause of Action Created.--Nothing in this Act creates a 
new cause of action, and, except as otherwise explicitly provided in 
this Act, nothing in this Act expands any liability otherwise imposed 
or limits any defense otherwise available under Federal or State law.
    (c) Exclusion of Personal Injury Claims.--None of the provisions of 
this Act shall apply to any claim based on personal injury, including 
any claim asserted by way of claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, third-
party claim, or otherwise, that arises out of an underlying action for 
personal injury.
    (d) Preemption of State Law.--Except as otherwise provided in this 
Act, this Act supersedes State law to the extent that it establishes a 
rule of law applicable to a year 2000 claim that is inconsistent with 
State law.
    (e) Certain Other Actions.--A person who is liable for damages, 
whether by settlement or judgment, in a claim or civil action to which 
this Act does not apply by reason of subsection (c) and whose 
liability, in whole or in part, is the result of a year 2000 failure 
may pursue any remedy otherwise available under Federal or State law 
against the person responsible for that year 2000 failure to the extent 
of recovering the amount of those damages. Any such remedy shall not be 
subject to this Act.

                         TITLE I--UNIFORM PRE-
              LITIGATION PROCEDURES FOR YEAR 2000 ACTIONS

SEC. 101. NOTICE PROCEDURES TO AVOID UNNECESSARY YEAR 2000 ACTIONS.

    (a) Notification Period.--Before filing a year 2000 action, except 
an action that seeks only injunctive relief, a prospective plaintiff 
shall send by certified mail to each prospective defendant a written 
notice that identifies, with particularity as to any year 2000 claim--
            (1) any symptoms of any material defect alleged to have 
        caused harm or loss;
            (2) the harm or loss allegedly suffered by the prospective 
        plaintiff;
            (3) the facts that lead the prospective plaintiff to hold 
        such person responsible for both the defect and the injury;
            (4) the relief or action sought by the prospective 
        plaintiff; and
            (5) the name, title, address, and telephone numbers of any 
        individual who has authority to negotiate a resolution of the 
        dispute on behalf of the prospective plaintiff.
The notice under this subsection does not require descriptions of 
technical specifications or other technical details with respect to the 
material defect at issue. Except as provided in subsection (c), the 
prospective plaintiff shall not commence an action in Federal or State 
court until the expiration of 90 days after the date on which such 
notice is received. Such 90-day period shall be excluded in the 
computation of any applicable statute of limitations.
    (b) Response to Notice.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than 30 days after receipt of 
        the notice specified in subsection (a), each prospective 
        defendant shall send by certified mail with return receipt 
        requested to each prospective plaintiff a written statement 
        acknowledging receipt of the notice and describing any actions 
        it has taken or will take by not later than 60 days after the 
        end of that 30-day period, to remedy the problem identified by 
        the prospective plaintiff.
            (2) Inadmissibility.--A written statement required by this 
        subsection is not admissible in evidence, under Rule 408 of the 
        Federal Rules of Evidence or any analogous rule of evidence in 
        any State, in any proceeding to prove liability for, or the 
        invalidity of, a claim or its amount, or otherwise as evidence 
        of conduct or statements made in compromise negotiations.
            (3) Presumptive time of receipt.--For purposes of paragraph 
        (1), a notice under subsection (a) is presumed to be received 7 
        days after it was sent.
    (c) Failure To Respond.--If a prospective defendant fails to 
respond to a notice provided pursuant to subsection (a) within the 30-
day period specified in subsection (b) or does not describe the action, 
if any, that the prospective defendant has taken or will take to remedy 
the problem identified by the prospective plaintiff within the 
subsequent 60 days, the 90-day period specified in subsection (a) shall 
terminate at the end of that 30-day period as to that prospective 
defendant and the prospective plaintiff may thereafter commence its 
action against that prospective defendant.
    (d) Failure To Provide Notice.--If a defendant determines that a 
plaintiff has filed a year 2000 action without providing the notice 
specified in subsection (a) and without awaiting the expiration of the 
90-day period specified in subsection (a), the defendant may treat the 
plaintiff's complaint as such a notice by so informing the court and 
the plaintiff in its initial response to the complaint. If any 
defendant elects to treat the complaint as such a notice--
            (1) the court shall stay all discovery in the action 
        involving that defendant for the applicable time period 
        provided in subsection (a) or (c), as the case may be, after 
        filing of the complaint; and
            (2) the time for filing answers and all other pleadings 
        shall be tolled during such applicable period.
    (e) Effect of Contractual Waiting Periods.--In cases in which a 
contract or a statute enacted before January 1, 1999, requires notice 
of nonperformance and provides for a period of delay prior to the 
initiation of suit for breach or repudiation of contract, the period of 
delay provided in the contract or the statute is controlling over the 
waiting period specified in subsections (a) and (d).
    (f) Sanction for Frivolous Invocation of the Stay Provision.--In 
any action in which a defendant acts pursuant to subsection (d) to stay 
the action, and the court subsequently finds that the defendant's 
assertion that the suit is a year 2000 action was frivolous and made 
for the purpose of causing unnecessary delay, the court may award 
sanctions to opposing parties in accordance with the provisions of Rule 
11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the equivalent applicable 

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