| 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...
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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