Text: H.R.5520 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (05/25/2006)


109th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 5520


To establish the Office of Veterans Identity Protection Claims to reimburse injured persons for injuries suffered as a result of the unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of identifying information stolen from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 25, 2006

Mrs. Wilson of New Mexico (for herself, Mr. Platts, Mr. Renzi, Mr. Hayworth, Mr. Gutknecht, Mr. Garrett of New Jersey, Mr. Leach, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, Mr. Simmons, Mrs. Kelly, Mr. Hefley, Mr. Cole of Oklahoma, Mr. Kline, Mr. Barrett of South Carolina, Mrs. Blackburn, Ms. Granger, Mr. Carter, Mrs. Johnson of Connecticut, Mr. Sweeney, Mrs. Miller of Michigan, Mr. Skelton, Mr. Spratt, Mr. Hall, Mr. Sherwood, Mr. Gerlach, Mrs. Northup, Mr. LoBiondo, Mr. Rogers of Michigan, Mr. Reichert, Mr. McCaul of Texas, Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Burgess, Mr. Gohmert, Mr. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Mr. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida, Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida, Mr. Davis of Kentucky, Mr. Hastings of Florida, Mr. Abercrombie, Mr. Meehan, Mr. Miller of Florida, Mr. Aderholt, Mr. Crenshaw, Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Goode, Mr. Jones of North Carolina, Mrs. Cubin, Mr. Rogers of Alabama, Mr. Everett, Mr. Bradley of New Hampshire, Mr. Beauprez, Mr. Gingrey, Mr. Istook, Mr. Tom Davis of Virginia, Mrs. Drake, Mrs. Schmidt, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Kirk, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Rothman, Mr. Shimkus, Mr. Taylor of Mississippi, Mr. Hulshof, Ms. Hart, Mr. Shays, Mr. Langevin, Mr. Wamp, Mr. Salazar, Mr. Porter, Mr. Franks of Arizona, Mr. Sessions, Mr. Hoekstra, and Mr. Hastings of Washington) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To establish the Office of Veterans Identity Protection Claims to reimburse injured persons for injuries suffered as a result of the unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of identifying information stolen from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 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 “Veterans Identity Protection Act”, or the “VIP Act”.

SEC. 2. Purposes.

The purposes of this Act are—

(1) to reimburse injured persons for injuries suffered as a result of the unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of identifying information stolen from the home of an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs on or around May 3, 2006; and

(2) to provide for the expeditious consideration and settlement of claims for those injuries.

SEC. 3. Definitions.

In this Act:

(1) DIRECTOR.—The term “Director” means the Director of the Office of Veterans Identity Protection Claims.

(2) INJURED PERSON.—The term “injured person” means an individual—

(A) whose name or other personal identifying information was part of the data of the Department of Veterans Affairs that was stolen from the home of an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs on or around May 3, 2006; and

(B) who suffered an injury as a result of the unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of personal identifying information that was included in the data described in subparagraph (A).

(3) OFFICE.—The term “Office” means the Office of Veterans Identity Protection Claims established under section 4(a).

SEC. 4. Office of Veterans Identity Protection Claims.

(a) Office established.—There is established an independent office of the executive branch to receive, process, and pay claims in accordance with this Act. Such office shall be known as the Office of Veterans Identity Protection Claims.

(b) Director.—Not later than 30 days after the enactment of this Act, the President shall appoint a director of the Office of Veterans Identity Protection Claims. The Director shall, on behalf of the United States, investigate, consider, ascertain, adjust, determine, grant, deny, or settle any claim for money damages asserted under section 5(b).

(c) Funding.—The Office—

(1) shall be funded from funds made available to the Director under this Act;

(2) may reimburse other Federal agencies for claims processing support and assistance;

(3) may appoint and fix the compensation of such temporary personnel as may be necessary, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in competitive service; and

(4) upon the request of the Director, may request that the head of any Federal department or agency detail, on a reimbursable basis, any of the personnel of that department or agency to the Office to assist it in carrying out its duties under this Act.

SEC. 5. Reimbursement for injuries suffered.

(a) Reimbursement.—Each injured person shall be entitled to receive from the United States—

(1) reimbursement for any injuries suffered by the injured person as a result of the unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of personal identifying information that was included in the data described in section 3(2)(A); and

(2) damages described in subsection (d)(3), as determined by the Director.

(b) Submission of claims.—Not later than 2 years after the date on which regulations are first promulgated under subsection (f), an injured person may submit to the Director a written claim for one or more injuries suffered by the injured person in accordance with such requirements as the Director determines to be appropriate.

(c) Investigation of claims.—

(1) APPLICABILITY OF STATE LAW.—Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the laws of the State in which the injured person resides shall apply to the calculation of damages under subsection (d)(3).

(2) EXTENT OF DAMAGES.—Any payment under this Act—

(A) shall be limited to actual compensatory damages measured by injuries suffered and interest before settlement or payment of a claim; and

(B) shall not include punitive damages.

(d) Payment of claims.—

(1) DETERMINATION AND PAYMENT OF AMOUNT.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date on which a claim is submitted under this Act, the Director shall determine and fix the amount, if any, to be paid for the claim.

(B) PARAMETERS OF DETERMINATION.—In determining and settling a claim under this Act, the Director shall determine only—

(i) whether the claimant is an injured person;

(ii) whether the injury that is the subject of the claim resulted from the unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of personal identifying information that was included in the data described in section 3(2)(A);

(iii) the amount, if any, to be allowed and paid to the injured person under this Act.

(C) OTHER PAYMENTS OR SETTLEMENTS.—In determining the amount of, and paying, a claim under this Act, to prevent recovery by a claimant in excess of actual compensatory damages, the Director shall reduce the amount to be paid for the claim by an amount that is equal to the total of any payments or settlements of any nature that were paid, or will be paid, to the injured person with respect to the claim.

(2) PARTIAL PAYMENT.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—At the request of a claimant, the Director may make one or more advance or partial payments before the final settlement of a claim, including final settlement on any portion or aspect of a claim that is determined to be severable.

(B) JUDICIAL DECISION.—If a claimant receives a partial payment on a claim under this Act, but further payment on the claim is subsequently denied by the Director, the claimant may—

(i) seek judicial review under subsection (i); and

(ii) keep any partial payment that the claimant received, unless the Director determines that the claimant—

(I) was not eligible to receive the reimbursement; or

(II) fraudulently procured the reimbursement.

(3) ALLOWABLE DAMAGES.—A claim that is paid under this Act may include otherwise uncompensated damages for loss of property, business loss, or financial loss resulting from the unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of personal identifying information that was included in the data described in section 3(2)(A).

(e) Acceptance of award.—The acceptance by a claimant of any payment under this Act, except an advance or partial payment made under subsection (d)(2), shall—

(1) be final and conclusive on the claimant, with respect to all claims arising out of or relating to the same subject matter;

(2) constitute a complete release of all claims against the United States (including any agency or employee of the United States) under chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code (commonly known as the ‘‘Federal Tort Claims Act’’), or any other Federal or State law, arising out of or relating to the same subject matter; and

(3) shall include a certification by the claimant, made under penalty of perjury and subject to the provisions of section 1001 of title 18, United States Code, that such claim is true and correct.

(f) Regulations and public information.—

(1) REGULATIONS.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, not later than 45 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director shall promulgate and publish in the Federal Register interim final regulations for the processing and payment of claims under this Act.

(2) PUBLIC INFORMATION.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—At the time at which the Director promulgates regulations under paragraph (1), the Director shall publish, in newspapers of general circulation in the each of the several States and the District of Columbia, a clear, concise, and easily understandable explanation, in English and Spanish, of—

(i) the rights conferred under this Act; and

(ii) the procedural and other requirements of the regulations promulgated under paragraph (1).

(B) DISSEMINATION THROUGH OTHER MEDIA.—The Director shall disseminate the explanation published under subparagraph (A) through brochures, pamphlets, radio, television, and other media that the Director determines are likely to reach prospective claimants.

(g) Consultation.—In administering this Act, the Director shall consult with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Secretary of the Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, other Federal agencies, and State and local authorities, as determined to be necessary by the Director to—

(1) ensure the efficient administration of the claims process; and

(2) provide for local concerns.

(h) Election of remedy.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—An injured person may elect to seek reimbursement from the United States for one or more injuries resulting from the unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of personal identifying information that was included in the data described in section 3(2)(A) by—

(A) submitting a claim under this Act;

(B) filing a claim or bringing a civil action under chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code; or

(C) bringing an authorized civil action under any other provision of law.

(2) EFFECT OF ELECTION.—An election by an injured person to seek reimbursement in any manner described in paragraph (1) shall be final and conclusive on the claimant with respect to all injuries resulting from the unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of personal identifying information that was included in the data described in section 3(2)(A) that are suffered by the claimant.

(3) ARBITRATION.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 45 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director shall establish by regulation procedures under which a dispute regarding a claim submitted under this Act may be settled by arbitration.

(B) ARBITRATION AS REMEDY.—On establishment of arbitration procedures under subparagraph (A), an injured person that submits a disputed claim under this Act may elect to settle the claim through arbitration.

(C) BINDING EFFECT.—An election by an injured person to settle a claim through arbitration under this paragraph shall—

(i) be binding; and

(ii) preclude any exercise by the injured person of the right to judicial review of a claim described in subsection (i).

(4) NO EFFECT ON ENTITLEMENTS.—Nothing in this Act affects any right of a claimant to file a claim for benefits under any Federal entitlement program.

(i) Judicial review.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Any claimant aggrieved by a final decision of the Director under this Act may, not later than 60 days after the date on which the decision is issued, bring a civil action in the an appropriate United States District Court, to modify or set aside the decision, in whole or in part.

(2) RECORD.—The court shall hear a civil action under paragraph (1) on the record made before the Director.

(3) STANDARD.—The decision of the Director incorporating the findings of the Director shall be upheld if the decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole.

(j) Attorney’s and agent’s fees.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—No attorney or agent, acting alone or in combination with any other attorney or agent, shall charge, demand, receive, or collect, for services rendered in connection with a claim submitted under this Act, fees in excess of 10 percent of the amount of any payment on the claim.

(2) VIOLATION.—An attorney or agent who violates paragraph (1) shall be fined not more than $10,000.

(k) Applicability of debt collection requirements.—Section 3716 of title 31, United States Code, shall not apply to any payment under this Act.

SEC. 6. Report; Audit.

(a) Not later than 180 days after the date of promulgation of regulations under section 5(f)(1), and semiannually thereafter, the Director shall submit to the Committees on Veterans Affairs, Energy and Commerce, and Judiciary of the House of Representatives, and the Committees on Veterans Affairs, Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Judiciary of the Senate, a report that describes the claims submitted under this Act during the six months preceding the date of submission of the report, including, for each claim—

(1) the amount claimed;

(2) a brief description of the nature of the claim; and

(3) the status or disposition of the claim, including the amount of any payment under this Act.

(b) The Comptroller General shall conduct an annual audit on the payment of all claims made under this Act, and shall report to the committees described in subsection (a) on the results of this audit beginning not later than the expiration of the 1-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 7. Authorization of appropriations.

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Director such sums as are necessary to carry out this Act, to remain available until expended.


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