HB4383 S JUD AM #1
The Committee on the Judiciary moved to amend the bill by striking out everything after the enacting section and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
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, excluding any complaint filed in the courts of this state.
(2) “False complaint” means a complaint received by an agency or department of the state that the agency or department of the state determines, after investigation, that the person who filed the complaint did so knowing the material statements in the complaint were not true, filed a complaint in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the statements contained therein or filed a complaint which constitutes an abuse of process.
(b) If 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 determines, by clear and convincing evidence, that a person filed a false complaint, as defined in this section, 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: Provided, however, That the agency or department must maintain written records of, at least, the name and telephone number of the person making the complaint to avail itself of the provisions of this section.
(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. The agency shall also forward a copy of any such written communication to the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.
(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.