(a) Become a participating manufacturer (as that term is defined in section II(jj) of the master settlement agreement) and generally perform its financial obligations under the master settlement agreement; or
(b) (1) Place into a qualified escrow fund by the fifteenth day of April of the year following the year in question the following amounts, adjusted for inflation:
(A) For the year one thousand nine hundred ninety-nine: $.0094241 per unit sold after the date of enactment of this article;
(B) For the year two thousand: $.0104712 per unit sold;
(C) For each of the years two thousand one and two thousand two: $.0136125 per unit sold;
(D) For each of the years two thousand three through two thousand six: $.0167539 per unit sold; and
(E) For the year two thousand seven or each year thereafter: $.0188482 per unit sold.
(2) A tobacco product manufacturer that places funds into escrow pursuant to this subsection shall receive the interest or other appreciation on such funds as earned. Such funds themselves shall be released from escrow only under the following circumstances:
(A) To pay a judgment or settlement on any released claim brought against such tobacco product manufacturer by the state or any releasing party located or residing in the state. Funds shall be released from escrow under this paragraph: (i) In the order in which they were placed into escrow; and (ii) only to the extent and at the time necessary to make payments required under such judgment or settlement;
(B) To the extent that a tobacco product manufacturer establishes that the amount it was required to place into escrow on account of units sold in the state in a particular year was greater than the master tobacco settlement agreement payments, as determined pursuant to section IX(i) of that agreement, including after final determination of all adjustments, that such manufacturer would have been required to make on account of such units sold had it been a participating manufacturer, the excess shall be released from escrow and revert back to such tobacco product manufacturer; or
(C) To the extent not released from escrow under paragraph (A) or (B) of this subdivision, funds shall be released from escrow and revert back to the tobacco product manufacturer twenty-five years after the date on which they were placed into escrow.
(3) Each tobacco product manufacturer that elects to place funds into escrow pursuant to this subsection shall annually certify to the attorney general that it is in compliance with this subsection. The attorney general may bring a civil action on behalf of the state against any tobacco product manufacturer that fails to place into escrow the funds required under this section. Any tobacco product manufacturer that fails in any year to place into escrow the funds required under this section shall:
(A) Be required within fifteen days to place such funds into escrow as shall bring it into compliance with this section. The court, upon a finding of a violation of this subsection, may impose a civil penalty, to be paid to the general fund of the state, in an amount not to exceed five percent of the amount improperly withheld from escrow per day of the violation and in a total amount not to exceed one hundred percent of the original amount improperly withheld from escrow;
(B) In the case of a knowing violation, be required within fifteen days to place such funds into escrow as shall bring it into compliance with this section. The court, upon a finding of a knowing violation of this subsection, may impose a civil penalty, to be paid to the general fund of the state, in an amount not to exceed fifteen percent of the amount improperly withheld from escrow per day of the violation and in a total amount not to exceed three hundred percent of the original amount improperly withheld from escrow; and
(C) In the case of a second knowing violation, be prohibited from selling cigarettes to consumers within the state (whether directly or through a distributor, retailer or similar intermediary) for a period not to exceed two years.
Each failure to make an annual deposit required under this section shall constitute a separate violation.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
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