Senate Bill No. 497
(By Senators Beach, D. Facemire, Kirkendoll and Miller)
[Passed March 10, 2012; in effect ninety days from passage.]
AN ACT to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §22-3-33, relating to the award of attorney fees and costs by the Surface Mine Board and courts.
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 section, designated §22-3-33, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3. SURFACE COAL MINING AND RECLAMATION ACT.
§22-3-33. Attorney fees and costs.
(a) As a result of any administrative proceeding under this article, at the request of any person, a sum equal to the aggregate amount of all costs and expenses, including attorney fees, as determined by the court or the Surface Mine Board to have been reasonably incurred by the requesting person for or in connection with his or her participation in the administrative proceeding, including any judicial review of agency actions, may be assessed against either party as the court, resulting from judicial review or the Surface Mine Board, resulting from administrative proceedings, considers proper.
(b) On a finding that a claim was brought in bad faith or for the purposes of harassment, the Surface Mine Board or the court, whichever is appropriate, may award to the defendant or respondent, however designated, a sum equal to the aggregate amount of all costs and expenses, including attorney fees, as determined to have been reasonably incurred.
(c) The secretary shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code that are necessary to implement the provisions of this section.