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Law of the Year 2000 Problem: Strategies, Claims, and Defenses.

Law of the Year 2000 Problem: Strategies, Claims, and Defenses Richard D. Williams Bruce T. Smyth Aspen Law & Business 1185 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10036 816 pp., $160

Legal commentators predict that the litigation that will result from the year 2000 problem will dwarf that of asbestos and other mass torts. If you visit on the Web, you will find over 700 books that address the year 2000 problem. The books cover everything from Y2K and women's issues to Y2K survival. Only a few deal with potential litigation.

Of the books that cover the legal aspects of Y2K, most do nothing more than rehash the general law of contracts and the Uniform Commercial Code. But Law of the Year 2000 Problem goes further and addresses areas of interest to Y2K lawyers.

The book, which comes in a three-ring binder format, discusses many issues, including advising corporate clients about liability; determining the liability of computer hardware and software manufacturers, vendors, and developers; and understanding the insurance issues that may result from the year 2000 problem.

The book contains some valuable information for those of us who are already or will be involved in Y2K litigation. Some of the most important information is in the first chapter about the history of the problem, including the computer industry's knowledge of it in the early 1970s. This information is invaluable in any Y2K litigation whose defendants claim not to have known about the problem until recently.

Also worth reading is chapter 6, which discusses embedded chips. If any personal injuries result from the year 2000 problem, they will be due to the failure of these chips in medical devices, automobiles, and other products. The chapter contains an excellent synopsis of the problem and of the obstacles lawyers may face, such as the economic loss rule.

Due to scant case law on Y2K litigation, the authors--Richard Williams and Bruce Smyth, trial lawyers who practice in Los Angeles--had to predict how courts might handle the litigation. They did this by looking at cases that involved other computer hardware and software glitches and then predicting what claims and defenses may be used successfully.

At the time the book was written, this was the best way to make a prediction. Unfortunately, the recently enacted Y2K Act makes some of the discussion in the book moot. The act will drastically affect the way lawyers handle many year 2000 claims. I assume the authors will prepare a supplement to the book to address this.

Although Law of the Year 2000 Problem is well written and full of useful information, it has some flaws. For example, it describes in detail causes of action available in a year 2000 action, but it fails to address the discovery aspects of the litigation. The authors do a fine job of listing the documents lawyers should obtain from defendants, but they fail to discuss other discovery issues or give examples of what questions to ask in interrogatories, what admissions to request, who to depose, and what areas to explore at depositions.

Setting these issues aside, the book would be a welcome addition to the library of any lawyer who litigates, or plans to litigate, Y2K cases.

Harris Pogust practices law in Pennsauken, New Jersey.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Pogust, Harris
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2000
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