West Virginia Code
§55-7J-1. Action for financial exploitation of an elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult; definitions.
(b) For the purposes of this article:
(1) “Incapacitated adult” has the same meaning as prescribed under section twenty-nine, article two, chapter sixty-one of this code;
(2) “Elderly person” means a person who is sixty-five years or older;
(3) “Financial exploitation” or “financially exploit” means the intentional misappropriation or misuse of funds or assets of an elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult, but shall not apply to a transaction or disposition of funds or assets where the defendant made a good-faith effort to assist the elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult with the management of his or her money or other things of value; and
(4) “Protected person” means any person who is defined as a “protected person” in section four, article one, chapter forty-four-a of this code and who is subject to the protections of chapter forty-four-a or forty-four-c of this code.
Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, acting in a position of trust and confidence, including, but not limited to, as guardian, conservator, trustee or attorney for or holding power of attorney for an elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult shall not, standing alone, constitute a defense to an action brought under this article.
§55-7J-3. Court authorized remedies.
(2) For violations committed by a person in a position of trust and confidence, payment of treble damages.
(a) The court may award reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs to a person that brings an action under this section and prevails.
(b) The standard of proof in proving that a person committed financial exploitation in an action pursuant to this article is a preponderance of the evidence.
(c) An action under this article shall be brought within two years from the date of the violation or from the date of discovery, whichever is later in time.
(a) An elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult may bring an action to enjoin the alleged commission of financial exploitation and may petition the court to freeze the assets of the person allegedly committing the financial exploitation in an amount equal to, but not greater than, the alleged value of lost property or assets for purposes of restoring to the victim the value of the lost property or assets. The burden of proof required to freeze the assets of a person allegedly committing financial exploitation shall be a preponderance of the evidence. Upon a finding that the elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult has been formally exploited, the court may:
(1) Grant injunctive relief;
(2) Order the violator to, in escrow an amount of money equivalent to the value of the misappropriated assets for distribution to the aggrieved elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult;
(3) Order the violator to return to the elderly person, protected person or incapacitated person any real or personal property which was misappropriated; or
(4) Provide for the appointment of a receiver;
(b) In an action under section one of this article, the court may void or limit the application of contracts or clauses resulting from the financial exploitation.
(c) In an action brought under this article, upon the filing of the complaint or on the appearance of any defendant, claimant or other party, or at any later time, the court may require the plaintiff, defendant, claimant or other party or parties to post security, or additional security, in a sum the court directs to pay all costs, expenses and disbursements that are awarded against that party or that the party may be directed to pay by any interlocutory order, by the final judgment or after appeal.
Any person who violates the terms of an order issued under section five of this article shall be subject to proceeding for contempt of court. The court issuing the injunction may retain jurisdiction if, in its discretion, it determines that to do so is in the best interest of the elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult. Whenever the court determines that an injunction issued under section five of this article has been violated, the court may award reasonable costs to the party asserting that a violation has occurred.