Rules Committee Sends Y2K Liability Bill to House Floor

Rules Committee Sends Y2K Liability Bill to House Floor

Dreier Says Bipartisan Y2K Bill
Focuses Efforts on Teamwork and Solutions, Not Legal Blame Game

WASHINGTON - As the House Rules Committee today approved the procedures for House consideration of bipartisan Y2K liability reforms, Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA), said "the legislation is an important step in making sure that America’s dynamic resources are effectively harnessed towards fixing Year 2000 computer problems."

The "Year 2000 Readiness and Responsibility Act of 1999," H.R. 775, is supported by a broad coalition of potential plaintiffs and defendants, corporations and small businesses alike, and is designed to provide incentives for businesses and consumers to work together on finding Y2K solutions.

"Fixing the Y2K glitch requires teamwork. This bill removes the legal barriers that divide people and prevent Y2K solutions from being found," Dreier said. "Last time I checked, businesses want to continue doing business next January, so the argument that lawsuits and threats will get the Y2K glitch fixed is wrong. Legal uncertainty is actually a hurdle standing in the way."

"The emphasis should be on fixing the problem - not playing the ‘blame game,’" added Dreier. "Today’s technology firms, which are driving America’s tremendous job creation and economic growth, must not be scapegoated for a decades old problem."

The debate procedures approved by the Rules Committee provide for a structured rule that provides for a number of amendments to be offered and voted on during Floor consideration, scheduled for tomorrow, including a Democrat substitute. Dreier thanked his fellow House colleagues who provided leadership on the issue, particularly Tom Davis (R-VA), the bill’s sponsor, and the other cosponsors, including James Moran (D-VA), Christopher Cox (R-CA), Cal Dooley (D-CA) and Bud Cramer (D-AL). Specifically, the legislation will:

  • require defendants to respond to Y2K questions and concerns in 30 days;
  • establish a 90 day pre-trial notice period in which Y2K related problems can be addressed;
  • encourage mediation and arbitration to help unclog the court systems;
  • directly link a defendant’s share of damages to their share of responsibility;
  • provide incentives for both defendants and plaintiffs to work on solutions;
  • create a uniform, nationwide Y2K liability standard; and,
  • not affect personal injury lawsuits.