GAO finds few Y2K-related lawsuits
- By Patrick Thibodeau
- Sep 27, 2000
One of the fears surrounding the Year 2000 problem was its potential to
result in litigation against companies. But the General Accounting Office
said it has identified less than 100 federal and state lawsuits that raised
In a Sept. 21 report, GAO noted that just 18 of those suits invoked
provisions of the liability-limiting bill passed last year by Congress.
When that measure was being considered, some legal experts estimated
a possible price of $1 trillion in legal costs and damages stemming from
millennium bug-related suits. Concerns about that kind of out-of-control
litigation prompted Congress to adopt the controversial Y2K Act, which set
a mandatory 90-day cooling-off period before any legal action could commence
and restricted the use of class action lawsuits, among other provisions.
The GAO report said most of the cases filed involved end users who had
taken action against a hardware or software vendor to bear the cost of replacing
or upgrading existing systems.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who asked GAO to study the issue, said the
report "confirms that in the courts, the Y2K bill was mostly used by big
companies to delay or sidetrack relief to consumers."
But Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association
of America, a trade group in Arlington, Va., said the intent of the legislation
was to prevent an onslaught of groundless litigation.
"That's what the legislation was all about," Miller said. "It wasn't
prohibiting anyone from going to court."
Distributed by IDG News Service.