(a) After demand, the attorney general may bring a civil action against a dealer for making or collecting charges in excess of those permitted by this chapter. If the court finds that an excess charge has been made, the court shall order the respondent to refund to the consumer the amount of the excess charge. If a dealer has made an excess charge in a deliberate violation of or in reckless disregard for this chapter or if a dealer has refused to refund an excess charge within a reasonable time after demand by the consumer or the attorney general, the court may also order the respondent to pay to the consumer a civil penalty in an amount determined by the court not in excess of ten times the amount of the excess charge. Refunds and penalties to which the consumer is entitled pursuant to this subsection may be set off against the consumer's obligation. If a consumer brings an action against a dealer to recover an excess charge or civil penalty, an action by the attorney general to recover for the same excess charge shall be stayed while the consumer's action is pending and shall be dismissed if the consumer's action is dismissed with prejudice or results in a final judgment granting or denying the consumer's claim. No action pursuant to this subsection may be brought more than one year after the time the excess charge was made. If the dealer establishes by a preponderance of evidence that a violation is unintentional or the result of a bona fide error, no liability to pay a penalty shall be imposed under this subsection.
(b) The attorney general may bring a civil action against a dealer to recover a civil penalty for willfully violating this chapter and if the court finds that the defendant has engaged in a course of repeated and willful violations of this chapter, it may assess a civil penalty of no more than five thousand dollars. No civil penalty pursuant to this subsection may be imposed for violations of this chapter occurring more than four years before the action is brought.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2013 1st Special Session
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