A "Smee" might sound like a Smurf to you or me, but this newly emerged creature is not frivolous. Subject matter experts--or "S.M.E's" in lawyer's parlance-- will be central figures in "the most litigous event in history." Or, at least, that's what the Year 2000 computer problem has the potential to become, according to the assesment of insurance underwriters speaking at a conference sponsored TSB of London earlier this year.

Already you could say that Y2K has created the biggest-ver game of Pass the (Timebomb) Parcel. As of early October, 55 legislative bills had been proposed regarding Y2K liability and 21 lawsuits filed. The first of the federal bills to pass both houses, cleared the House of Representatives on October 1 and the bill, S2392--which was preapproved by the Administration--was expected to be signed at press time. The first of the Y2K lawsuits filed was actually settled two months ago when a Michigan supermarket operator, Produce Palace International, obtained $250,000 for costs plus damages arising from the inability of its card readers to handle credit cards with expiration dates in the next millennium. In that case, the respective companies that manufactured and installed the readers were sued, but elsewhere heat is being applied to card issuers whose cards can't operate beyond the Year 2000.

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