It marks what observers believe is the first dismissal of such a case in a group of class-action suits regarding the Y2K technology problem.
The lawsuit, Alan Issokson vs. Intuit, was filed in regard to the Year 2000 readiness of the online banking functionality of Intuit's Quicken versions 5 and 6 for Windows and versions 6 and 7 for Macintosh. It was dismissed by the court on August 27 because no damages could be proved, according to the company.
Intuit said that it is working to have five other similar Year 2000 suits dismissed, all of which were filed after the Issokson suit.
Shepard Remis, who heads the Y2K legal team for Goodwin, Proctor and Hoar in Boston, said the dismissal is the first of the ongoing Y2K class action suits to be dismissed. His team is made up of 15 attorneys who advise clients on averting potential legal problems from the Year 2000 bug.
Although he has yet to read the final decision by the California court, Remis said from what he has observed so far Intuit made an interesting argument that Issokson could not prove damages.
"They argued that the case may be premature because Intuit said [upgrades] to the software may have come before the Year 2000...The argument of whether it works in 2000 is speculative," thus "the plaintiff could can't show what damages" would have happened.
In a statement, Allison Hubbard Colgin, the senior corporate lawyer at Intuit, said the decision is significant because it confirms that no Intuit customers have been hurt.
"Intuit has a strong and long-standing commitment to meeting the needs of our customers, including Year 2000 readiness," he said.
Although the decision against the plaintiff does not set precedence because it was not made by an appellate court, it may have some far reaching affects, one California attorney said.
"These kinds of things can influence other judges, because of the location of the court in Santa Clara. That's a significant place in the industry," said Dean Morehous, an attorney with Thelen Reid & Priest based in California.
Intuit said it is working to have five other similar Year 2000 suits dismissed, all of which were filed after the Issokson suit. One of the most recent suits was filed in May against Intuit in New York State Supreme Court on behalf of all purchasers of Quicken 5 and 6 (both Windows and Mac versions). The suit seeks damages and asks that Intuit provide free fixes for the flawed software.
Intuit did not return calls to comment on the case or whether the case in New York is one of the cases it is seeking to have dismissed
According to suits filed against Intuit, the Mountain View, California-based software maker has told Quicken customers the only way to fix the Y2K problem is to spend $35 for Quicken 98, which recognizes dates beyond December 31, 1999. This decision has sparked most of the current lawsuits by customers who claim this is a forced upgrade.
According to Claude M. Stern, lead counsel in the case for Intuit, the software company said it will provide a free fix for the Quicken packages in question by June 1999.