Summary: H.R.5229 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.5229. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (05/21/1992)

Fundamental Competitiveness Act of 1992 - Title I: Public Debt Reduction - Allows individual taxpayers to designate a portion of tax liability (not to exceed ten percent) on their tax returns to reduce the public debt.

Establishes the Public Debt Reduction Trust Fund consisting of amounts so designated.

Amends the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act) to provide for a sequestration of revenues equivalent to the estimated aggregate amount so designated. Specifies accounts exempted from such sequestration and establishes reporting requirements with respect to budget procedures.

Title II: Capital Formation - Establishes a method of computing the credit for increasing research activities based on aggregate research expenses, as an alternative to the method based on qualified research expenses.

Establishes a variable capital gains deduction whose formulas on a sliding scale range from ten percent for assets held for one year up to 100 percent for assets held for ten years.

Allows a deduction of 50 percent of the capital gain from stock investments by non-corporate taxpayers in start-up companies where initial stock offerings are held for two years.

Requires indexing, based on the gross national product deflator, of the adjusted basis of certain assets (corporate stock and tangle property that is a capital asset of property used in a trade or business) that have been held for more than one year at the time of sale or other disposition, solely for the purpose of determining gain or loss. Permits an income tax deduction in the amount of dividends paid by domestic corporations, except S corporations, regulated investment companies, real estate investment trusts, and personal holding companies.

Repeals the income tax deductions currently permitted in connection with: (1) dividends received by a corporation; (2) dividends received by a corporation on the preferred stock of a public utility; and (3) dividends paid by a public utility on its preferred stock.

Increases the deductible percentage of amounts received by a corporation from a qualified ten-percent owned foreign corporation.

Allows a charitable deduction for corporate contributions of employee volunteer services to an educational organization.

Establishes an investment tax credit for manufacturing and other productive equipment. Provides for determining the applicable percentage of such credit, which includes an efficiency improvement percentage.

Increases the limitation based on the amount of tax for purposes of the general business credit.

Provides for the treatment of losses on stock in manufacturing companies as ordinary (as opposed to capital) losses.

Allows a partial exclusion of dividends or interest received by an individual.

Provides for ordinary-loss treatment for losses on investments in a qualified startup company. Describes such company as one which: (1) manufacture tangible personal property in the United States; (2) does not involve a business acquired from another person; and (3) has not been in existence for more than one taxable year at the time it issued stock.

Title III: Antitrust - Amends the Clayton Act to bar the acquisition by one corporation of stock of another, subject to specified conditions, where there is a significant probability that such acquisition will substantially increase the ability to exercise market power (currently, where the effect of such acquisition may be to substantially lessen competition or to tend to create a monopoly).

Defines the ability to exercise market power for purposes of such provision as the ability of one or more firms profitably to maintain prices above competitive levels for a significant period of time. Directs the court, in determining whether there is a significant probability that any acquisition will substantially increase the ability to exercise market power, to consider all economic factors relevant to the effect of the acquisition in the affected markets, including: (1) the number and size distribution of firms and the effect of the acquisition thereon; (2) the ease or difficulty of entry by foreign or domestic firms; (3) the ability of smaller firms in the market to increase production in response to an attempt to exercise market power; (4) the nature of the product and terms of sale; (5) conduct of firms in the market; (6) efficiencies deriving from the acquisition; and (7) any other evidence indicating whether the acquisition will or will not substantially increase the ability, unilaterally or collectively, to exercise market power.

Amends the National Cooperative Research Act of 1984 to include a joint production venture within the scope of such Act as an activity that shall not be deemed illegal per se under the antitrust laws. Changes the short title of such Act to the National Cooperative Research, Development, and Production Act.

Title IV: Business Liability - Subtitle A: Findings - Makes findings with respect to the increasing amount of litigation in our society and the desirability of encouraging alternative dispute mechanisms and providing uniform legal standards in the areas of professional and product liability.

Subtitle B: Professionals' Liability Reform - Professionals' Liability Reform Act of 1992 - Establishes certain limitations and procedures regarding professional liability actions. Preempts certain State laws.

Provides that nothing in this Act shall prohibit any State from developing or implementing alternative procedures for: (1) expediting the adjudication of professional liability claims; (2) resolving professional liability disputes; or (3) compensating for harm caused by professional services. Requires professional liability actions to be brought within three years after the claimant discovered, or should have discovered, the harm.

Requires the claimant, in any professional liability action, to establish: (1) that the professional negligently rendered professional services and that such negligence was the proximate cause of the harm; or (2) in a claim for economic injury, that the professional negligently rendered professional services to and for the direct and intended benefit of the claimant, and such services were the proximate cause of the harm. Requires the claimant to establish that, at the time such services were provided, knowledge of the circumstances that caused the harm and a practical means to eliminate such circumstances were reasonably available.

States that a professional shall not be liable in a professional liability action in which: (1) the professional's services were rendered to an agency of the Federal or State government; (2) Federal or State contract specifications existed which were material to the claim; and (3) the services rendered conformed to such specifications.

Permits future damage awards exceeding $100,000 to be made by periodic payments. Requires that damage awards be offset by any amount received as compensation for the same injury. Establishes a contingency fee schedule for plaintiffs' attorneys. States that the principles of comparative liability shall apply unless persons engaged in concerted action which proximately caused the harm.

Permits the awarding of punitive damages only where the conduct of the defendant: (1) manifested a malicious and reckless disregard for safety; and (2) constituted an extreme departure from accepted standards of safety. States that punitive damages may not be awarded in the absence of a compensatory award, or for the negligent provision of professional services. Requires the trier of fact, at the request of the professional, to consider in a separate proceeding whether punitive damages are to be awarded. Limits the claimant's actual recovery of punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages. States that excess punitive damages shall be paid to the State or Federal government.

Makes any attorney who files a frivolous claim subject to pecuniary sanctions by the court.

Requires each State to encourage professional organizations to form risk management programs.

Subtitle C: Product Liability Fairness - Part I: General Provisions - Product Liability Fairness Act - Declares that this Act governs any product liability action brought against a manufacturer or product seller, on any theory, for harm caused by a product. States that a civil action brought against a manufacturer or product seller for loss or damage to a product itself or commercial loss shall be governed by applicable commercial or contract law.

Supersedes any inconsistent State law regarding recovery in such actions.

Lists specific laws not superseded, including: (1) defense of sovereign immunity asserted by any State or by the United States; (2) any Federal law (except the Federal Employees Compensation Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act); (3) the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976; (4) State choice-of-law rules; (5) the right of any court to transfer venue or to apply the law of a foreign nation or to dismiss a claim of a foreign nation or citizen on the ground of inconvenient forum; and (6) any statutory or common law cause of action, including an action to abate a nuisance, that authorizes a State or person to institute an action for civil damages or civil penalties, clean up costs, injunctions, restitution, cost recovery, punitive damages, or any other form of relief from contamination or pollution of the environment or the threat of it.

Declares that U.S. district courts shall not have jurisdiction over any civil action under this Act, based on specified provisions of Federal law relating to district court jurisdiction.

Declares that, if any provision of this Act would shorten the period during which a manufacturer or seller would otherwise be exposed to liability, the claimant may, notwithstanding that period, bring any civil action under this Act within one year after the effective date of this Act.

Part II: Out of Court Procedures - Allows any claimant to bring a civil action for damages against a person for harm caused by a product under applicable State law, except to the extent such law is superseded by this title.

Sets forth expedited settlement measures, including: (1) an option to include an offer of settlement, for a specific dollar amount, by the plaintiff in the complaint and by the defendant in a responsive pleading; and (2) awarding attorney's fees and costs, in certain circumstances, to the prevailing party if the other party does not accept the settlement offer.

Sets forth alternative dispute resolution procedures, including: (1) an option, in lieu of or in addition to a settlement offer, for a claimant or a defendant to offer to proceed under any voluntary alternative dispute resolution procedure established or recognized under the law of the State in which the action is brought or maintained; and (2) awarding of attorney's fees and costs to the offering party if the court determines that a refusal to so proceed was unreasonable or not in good faith. Creates a rebuttable presumption that a refusal to so proceed was unreasonable, or not in good faith, if a verdict is rendered in favor of the offeror.

Part III: Court Procedures - Allows a person seeking to recover for harm caused by a product to bring a civil action against the manufacturer or seller under applicable State or Federal law, except to the extent such law is superseded by this Act.

Establishes a standard of product seller liability for proximate causes of harm, established by a preponderance of the evidence, which fall under the categories of negligence or express warranty. Allows the trier of fact, in a negligence action, to consider the conduct of the seller with respect to: (1) the construction, inspection, or condition of the product; and (2) failure to pass on warnings or instructions from the manufacturer. Deems the seller not liable for failure to provide warnings or instructions unless the claimant establishes that the seller failed to: (1) provide warnings or instructions received while the product was in the seller's possession and control; or (2) make reasonable efforts to provide users with warnings and instructions which it received after the product left its possession and control. Deems a seller not liable except for breach of warranty where there was no opportunity to inspect the product in a manner which would or should, in the exercise of reasonable care, have revealed the aspect which allegedly caused the harm.

Declares that the seller shall be treated as the manufacturer and be liable for harm caused by a product as if it were the manufacturer if: (1) the manufacturer is not subject to service of process in any State in which the action might have been brought; or (2) the court determines that the claimant would be unable to enforce a judgment against the manufacturer.

Allows punitive damages, if otherwise permitted by applicable law, to be awarded in any civil action under this title to any claimant who establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the harm suffered was the result of conduct manifesting a manufacturer's or product seller's conscious, flagrant indifference to the safety of those persons who might be harmed by a product. Declares that a failure to exercise reasonable care in choosing among alternative product designs, formulations, instructions, or warnings is not of itself such conduct. Prohibits awarding punitive damages in the absence of a compensatory award, subject to exception.

Prohibits punitive damages against a manufacturer or seller of a drug or medical device where: (1) the drug or device was subject to pre-market approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); or (2) the drug is generally recognized as safe and effective under conditions established by the FDA.

Prohibits punitive damages against a manufacturer of an aircraft where: (1) the aircraft was subject to pre-market certification by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); and (2) the manufacturer complied, after delivery, with FAA requirements and obligations with respect to continuing airworthiness.

Provides for separate proceedings, if requested by the manufacturer or seller, with regard to punitive damages.

Lists factors the trier of fact is allowed to consider in determining the amount of punitive damages.

Bars any civil action under this title: (1) unless filed within two years after the claimant discovered or should have discovered the harm and its cause, subject to exception; and (2) if the product involved is a capital good that is alleged to have caused harm which is not a toxic harm unless filed within twenty-five years after delivery of the product, provided the claimant has received or would be eligible for State or Federal workers' compensation. Excludes a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railroad used primarily to transport passengers for hire from these time limitations. States that nothing in these provisions affects the right of any person who is subject to liability under this Act to obtain contribution or indemnity from any other person who is responsible for the harm.

Requires reduction in the damages awarded by the sum of all State or Federal workers' compensation benefits to which the employee is or would be entitled. Requires a claimant in a civil action under this title who is or may be eligible to receive State or Federal workers' compensation to notify the claimant's employer of the civil action. Requires an action to be stayed, at the sole discretion of the claimant, until a final determination is made on the amount payable as workers' compensation benefits. Declares that, unless the manufacturer or seller has expressly agreed to indemnify or hold an employer harmless, neither the employer nor the workers' compensation insurance carrier shall have a right of subrogation, contribution, or implied indemnity against the manufacturer or seller or a lien against the claimant's recovery, except if the claimant's harm was not in any way caused by the fault of the claimant's employer or co-employees. Allows the employer or workers' compensation insurer to intervene in the action to prove that fact.

Prohibits a third party tortfeasor, where workers' compensation is involved, from maintaining any action for implied indemnity or contribution against the employer, any coemployee, or the exclusive representative of the injured person. Prohibits, for a person who is or would have been entitled to receive workers' compensation, any other action, unless a State or Federal workers' compensation law permits recovery based on a claim of an intentional tort. Makes these provisions inapplicable and declares that applicable State law shall control if the employer or the workers' compensation insurer asserts a right of subrogation, contribution, or implied indemnity against the manufacturer or seller or a lien against the claimant's recovery.

Declares that, in any product liability action, the liability of each defendant for noneconomic damages shall be several and not joint. Requires the trier of fact to determine the proportion of responsibility of each party for the claimant's harm.

Establishes a complete defense, in any civil action under this Act in which all defendants are manufacturers or sellers, that the claimant was under the influence of alcohol or any drug and that, as a result, the claimant was more than 50 percent responsible for the event which resulted in the harm. Defines "drug" to mean any non-over-the-counter drug which has not been prescribed by a physician.

Title V: Long-Term Investment - Long-Term Investment Promotion Act of 1992 - Amends the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to eliminate the requirement that publicly-held corporations report their financial status on a quarterly basis.

Title VI: Competitiveness Risk Assessment - Declares that no agency shall propose or promulgate a regulation without first analyzing its direct and indirect effects on the health and safety of consumers and workers, including effects due to wage and job losses, price increases, product restrictions, technological delays, and substitution effects.

Title VII: Department of Manufacturing And Commerce - Department of Manufacturing and Commerce Act of 1992 - Renames the Department of Commerce as the Department of Manufacturing and Commerce.

Requires the President to establish a Manufacturing Advisory Commission to examine Federal agencies, programs, and offices responsible for manufacturing-related research and development, technology transfer, education, and trade in order to prepare a report for the Congress on the feasibility of consolidating such agencies, programs, and offices into a single Office of Manufacturing within the Department of Manufacturing and Commerce.

Title VIII: Amendments to the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 - Amends the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 to change from discretionary to mandatory a Federal agency's authority to permit the director of any of its laboratories to enter into cooperative research and development agreements on its behalf.

Authorizes each Federal agency to copyright on behalf of the United States any computer software prepared in whole or in part by Government employees involved in cooperative research and development agreements.

Includes software royalties in the current distribution format (agency, laboratory, author, and Treasury) under such Act.