Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate amended (03/26/1999)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Prelitigation Procedures for Year 2000 Civil

Actions

Title II: Year 2000 Civil Actions Involving Contracts

Title III: Year 2000 Civil Actions Involving Tort and Other

Noncontractual Claims

Title IV: Class Actions Involving Year 2000 Claims

Title V: Effective Date

Year 2000 Fairness and Responsibility Act - Title I: Prelitigation Procedures for Year 2000 Civil Actions - Requires the prospective plaintiff, before filing a year 2000 claim, except in an action for a claim that seeks only injunctive relief, to provide to each prospective defendant a written notice that identifies and describes with particularity: (1) any manifestation of a material defect alleged to have caused injury; (2) the injury allegedly suffered or reasonably risked; and (3) the relief or action sought.

Requires each prospective defendant, within 30 days after receipt of the notice, to provide each prospective plaintiff a written statement that acknowledges receipt of the notice and describes any actions that the defendant will take, or has taken, to address the defect or injury identified. Prohibits a prospective plaintiff from filing a year 2000 claim in Federal or state court until the expiration of the 90-day period beginning on the date on which the prospective plaintiff provides notice, with exceptions.

Sets forth provisions regarding failure to respond, failure to provide notice, effect on contractual waiting periods, sanctions for frivolous invocation of the stay provision, and time computations. Limits the number of waiting or stay periods. Tolls any applicable statute of limitations during the period during which a claimant has filed notice.

(Sec. 102) Authorizes either party, at any time during the 90-day notification period, to request the other party to use alternative dispute resolution. Provides that if, based upon that request, the parties enter into an agreement to use alternative dispute resolution (ADR), the parties may also agreed to an extension of that 90-day period. Requires, if a dispute that is the subject of the complaint or responsive pleading is resolved through ADR: (1) the defendant to pay a sum that the defendant is required to pay to the plaintiff under the settlement within 30 days of settling the dispute; and (2) all other terms through the resolution to be implemented as promptly as possible based upon the parties' agreement. Makes such 30-day period inapplicable if the parties agree to a different time period or if a different period is established by contract between the parties.

Requires the complaint, in any year 2000 civil action in which the plaintiff seeks an award of money damages, to state with particularity: (1) the nature and amount of each element of damages; and (2) the factual basis for the calculation of the damages.

Requires the complaint, in any year 2000 civil action in which the plaintiff alleges the product or service was defective, to: (1) identify with particularity the manifestations of the material defects; and (2) state with particularity the facts supporting the conclusion that the defects were material.

Sets forth provisions regarding state of mind, dismissal for failure to meet pleading requirements, stay of discovery, and preservation of evidence.

(Sec. 104) Directs that damages awarded for any year 2000 claim exclude any amount that the plaintiff could reasonably have avoided in light of any disclosure or other information with respect to which the plaintiff was, or reasonably could have been, aware.

Title II: Year 2000 Civil Actions Involving Contracts - Provides that all written contractual terms, including limitations or exclusions of liability or disclaimers of warranty, shall be strictly enforced in resolving a claim, unless the enforcement of such terms would manifestly and directly contravene applicable State law embodied in a specific statute addressing that term as of January 1, 1999.

Specifies that the interpretation of an issue in a contract with respect to which the contract is silent shall be determined by applicable law in effect at the time that the contract was entered into.

(Sec. 202) Sets forth provisions regarding evidence of reasonable efforts and regarding impossibility or commercial impracticability.

(Sec. 203) Prohibits the court, in resolving a year 2000 claim that involves a breach of contract, warranty, or related claim, from awarding any damages not provided for by the express terms of the contract, with an exception.

Title III: Year 2000 Civil Actions Involving Tort and Other Noncontractual Claims - Bars recovery by a party to a year 2000 civil action for economic losses for a year 2000 claim based on tort unless the party is able to show that at least one of the following circumstances exists: (1) the recovery of those losses is provided for in the contract to which the party seeking to recover those losses is a party; (2) the contract is silent on those losses but the application of the Federal or State law that governed interpretation of the contract at the time it was entered into would allow recovery of those losses; (3) those losses are incidental to a claim in the action based on personal injury caused by a year 2000 failure; or (4) those losses are incidental to a claim in the action based on damage to tangible property caused by such a failure. Allows recovery for economic losses only if applicable Federal law, or applicable State law embodied in statute or controlling judicial precedent as of January 1, 1999, permits the recovery of those losses in the action.

(Sec. 302) Makes a person against whom a final judgment is entered on a year 2000 claim, except in cases involving personal injury, solely liable for the portion of the judgment that corresponds to the percentage of that person's responsibility. Directs the court to instruct the jury to answer special interrogatories (or if there is no jury, to make findings as to each defendant and plaintiff and each of the other persons claimed to have caused or contributed to the plaintiff's loss) concerning the percentage of that person's responsibility, measured as a percentage of the total fault of all persons who caused or contributed to the total loss incurred by the plaintiff.

(Sec. 303) Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) state of mind and foreseeability of injury; (2) a reasonable efforts defense; (3) limits on punitive damages and economic losses; and (4) liability of officers and directors.

Title IV: Class Actions Involving Year 2000 Claims - Provides that, in any action involving a year 2000 claim that a product or service is defective, the action may be maintained as a class action in Federal or State court with respect to that claim only if: (1) the claim satisfies all other prerequisites established by applicable Federal or State law; and (2) the court finds that the alleged defect in the product or service was a material defect with respect to a majority of the class members.

(Sec. 402) Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) notification (with respect to class actions); (2) dismissal prior to certification; (3) Federal jurisdiction in class actions involving year 2000 claims; and (4) removal of class actions.

Title V: Effective Date - Makes this Act effective January 1, 1999.