(b) The Legislature further finds that there are numerous actions, suits and proceedings filed on behalf of the State of West Virginia or a government agency thereof, that may affect the public interest. Depending upon the outcome, this type of litigation may have significant consequences that can only be addressed by subsequent legislative action. In such litigation, the Governor, Department of Administration and the Legislature may not be directly involved as parties. Additionally, the Governor, Department of Administration and the Legislature need advance notice of potential moneys that may become available as a result of seizure or forfeiture of assets under state or federal criminal law. The Governor, Department of Administration and the Legislature require more timely information regarding these actions in order to protect the public interest. The Legislature further finds that protection of the public interest is best served by requiring notice to the Governor, the Secretary of the Department of Administration, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates of any action brought on behalf of the state or a government agency thereof, which may result in a judgment, award or settlement and when the state or a government agency thereof, becomes eligible for moneys from state or federal seizure or forfeiture of assets in criminal cases.
(c) It is the purpose of this article to establish procedures to be followed in certain civil actions filed on behalf of or against state government agencies and their officials.
(1) "Action" means a proceeding instituted against a governmental agency in a circuit court or in the supreme court of appeals, except actions instituted pursuant to statutory provisions that authorize a specific procedure for appeal or similar method of obtaining relief from the ruling of an administrative agency and actions instituted to appeal or otherwise seek relief from a criminal conviction, including, but not limited to, actions to obtain habeas corpus relief.
(2) "Government agency" means a constitutional officer or other public official named as a defendant or respondent in his or her official capacity, or a department, division, bureau, board, commission or other agency or instrumentality within the executive branch of state government that has the capacity to sue or be sued;
(3) "Judgment" means a judgment, order or decree of a court which would:
(A) Require or otherwise mandate an expansion of, increase in, or addition to the services, duties or responsibilities of a government agency;
(B) Require or otherwise mandate an increase in the expenditures of a government agency above the level of expenditures approved or authorized before the entry of the proposed judgment;
(C) Require or otherwise mandate the employment or other hiring of, or the contracting with, personnel or other entities by a government agency in addition to the personnel or other entities employed or otherwise hired by, or contracted with or by the government agency;
(D) Require or otherwise mandate payment of a claim based upon a breach of contract by a government agency; or
(E) Declare an act of the Legislature unconstitutional and, therefore, unenforceable.
(2) The written notice to the chief officer of the government agency and the Attorney General required by subdivision (1) of this subsection is considered to be provided on the date of mailing of the notice by certified mail, return receipt requested. If the written notice is provided to the chief officer of the government agency as required by subdivision (1) of this subsection, any applicable statute of limitations is tolled for thirty days from the date the notice is provided and, if received by the government agency as evidenced by the return receipt of the certified mail, for thirty days from the date of the returned receipt.
(3) A copy of any complaint filed in an action as defined in section two of this article shall be served on the Attorney General.
(b) (1) Notwithstanding any procedural rule or any provision of this code to the contrary, in an action instituted against a government agency that seeks a judgment, as defined in section two of this article, the chief officer of the government agency which is named a party to the action shall, upon receipt of service, forthwith give written notice thereof, together with a copy of the complaint filed, to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates.
(2) Upon request, the chief officer of the government agency shall furnish the President and Speaker with copies of pleadings filed and discovery produced in the proceeding and other documents, information and periodic reports relating to the proceeding as may be requested.
(3) The chief officer of a government agency who fails without good cause to comply with the provisions of this subsection is guilty of misfeasance. This subsection does not require a notice or report to the President and the Speaker that no action has been instituted or is pending against a governmental agency during a specified period.
(c) The requirements for notice and delivery of pleadings and other documents to the President of the Senate or Speaker of the House of Delegates pursuant to the provisions of this section do not constitute a waiver of any Constitutional immunity or protection that proscribes or limits actions, suits or proceedings against the Legislature or the State of West Virginia.
(d) The exercise of authority granted by the provisions of this section does not subject the Legislature or any member of the Legislature to any terms of a judgment.
(1) A government agency shall be allowed sixty days to serve an answer to a complaint or petition for which a summons has been issued and served upon a government agency;
(2) Judgment by default may not be entered against a government agency in an action as defined in section two of this article unless the court, after a hearing on a motion for default judgment, finds that the government agency clearly intends to fail to appear, plead or otherwise defend in the action; and
(3) No government agency may be ordered to pay punitive damages in any action.
(b) When a government agency becomes aware that moneys may be available to them from a state or federal seizure or forfeiture in a criminal case they shall notify the Governor, the Secretary of the Department of Administration, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates: Provided, That the total value of the assets to be seized or forfeited exceeds two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
(b) The provisions of this article may not be construed to impose any liability upon a state agency from which the agency is otherwise immune.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.