WEST virginia legislature
2016 regular session
House Bill 4383
By DELEGATES R. PHILLIPS, REYNOLDS, MARCUM, HAMRICK, WALTERS, SOBONYA, P.WHITE, BUTLER, MCCUSKEY, WELD AND HANSHAW
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §5-30-1, relating to excessive filing of false complaints; defining terms; providing for the discretionary suspension of investigatory obligations by agencies or departments; setting forth time frames for determination of excessive false complaints; limiting the time frame investigatory obligations may be suspended; providing for exceptions in the agency’s or department’s sole discretion; providing for written notice of determinations that a complaint was a false complaint; providing that a copy of this article accompany notices; providing for exceptions to this article for emergency investigations and the West Virginia State Police; providing for civil actions; establishing burden of proof and remedies for civil actions; and preserving other available remedies of an agency or department.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §5-30-1, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 30. EXCESSIVE FILING OF FALSE COMPLAINTS.
§5-30-1. Filing of false claims; suspension of investigatory obligations; notice; exceptions; civil actions and remedies.
(a) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Complaint” means a claim, allegation, report or action that prompts a required inspection or investigation by an agency or department of the state.
(2) “False complaint” means a complaint received by an agency or department of the state by an individual that, after it has been investigated and concluded, is found to be frivolous, without merit, or made in bad faith.
(b) Any agency or department of the state that is required by statute, rule, regulation or policy to conduct inspections or investigate complaints by individuals to determine whether there is violation of a statute, rule or regulation may, in its sole discretion, suspend any obligations with respect to such required inspections or investigations as to that individual if the agency or department determines that the individual has made three or more false complaints in a two-month period: Provided, That any such suspension shall not last longer than six months and the agency or department may still undertake any inspections or investigations as a result of a complaint by the individual within this time period.
(c) Any individual whose complaint is determined to be a false complaint shall be advised of the same, in writing, within forty-eight hours of the conclusion of the inspection or investigation. A copy of this article shall be provided with the written notice.
(d) This article does not apply to any agency or department inspections or investigations that are required in the event of emergencies or the West Virginia State Police.
(e) In the event an agency or department subject to this article suspends its obligations to an individual, the agency or department is authorized to file a civil action against the individual and, upon proof by a preponderance of the evidence that any of the complaints giving rise to the suspension were false complaints, is entitled to recover its actual costs associated with the inspection or investigation and resolution of those false complaints, plus attorney’s fees and costs, as well as any injunctive or equitable relief.
(f) Nothing in this article is intended to affect or supersede any other available legal or administrative remedies of any agency or department.