HB4383 HFA Cowles 3-11

Delegate Cowles moves to concur in the Senate amendment with further amendment to read as follows:

On page one, following the enacting clause, by striking out the remainder of the bill and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

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:


§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 by an individual that, after it has been investigated and concluded, is found to be frivolous, without merit, or made with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the subject of the complaint.

(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:  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. 

(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.