In Nolden v. Summit Financial Corporation, 2018 WL 1956339, at *4–5 (Fla.App. 4 Dist., 2018), the Florida Court of Appeal found that an automobile RISC is not a “loan” subject to usury.
The defendants were also entitled to entry of summary judgment because the transaction in this case was not a “loan” under the usury statute. . . .“The law is well settled that usury can only attach to a loan of money, or to the forbearance of a debt….” Davidson v. Davis, 52 So. 139, 139 (Fla. 1910); see also Nelson v. Scarritt Motors, 48 So. 2d 168, 168–69 (Fla. 1950) (“[O]ur usury statutes have generally been construed as if directed to contracts for the loan of money.”). In order to determine whether a transaction is a “loan” within the meaning of the usury statute, courts look to the substance of the transaction. Oregrund, 873 So. 2d at 457.  Florida courts have repeatedly held that contracts to secure the price of property sold are not governed by general usury laws. “[T]he usury statutes condemn usury charges made as an incident to a loan of money. We have held that the same rule does not apply to a transaction representing the purchase price of property.” Perry v. Beckerman, 97 So. 2d 860, 862 (Fla. 1957) (citing Davidson, 52 So. at 139 (contract for sale of land); Scarritt Motors, 48 So. 2d at 168 (contract to purchase used car “not amenable to the charge of usury.”) ).  A 1958 Attorney General Opinion recognized that sellers and finance companies qualified under Chapter 520 receive “rights and privileges” including the ability to enter contracts that are not “amenable to the general usury statutes.” Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 58–56 (1958).  The third district relied upon the Attorney General Opinion in B & D, Inc. of Miami v. E–Z Acceptance Corp., 186 So. 2d 29 (Fla. 3d DCA 1966). B & D involved the enforceability of retail installment sales contracts for used motor vehicles where the contracts charged interest in excess of that allowed by the general usury statute. The court found that the contracts “are not subject to the general usury statutes.” Id. at 30.  Taylor v. First Nat’l Bank of Miami, 270 So. 2d 379 (Fla. 3d DCA 1972), is even more factually on point. There, the buyer defaulted on a motor vehicle retail installment sales contract. Id. at 380. The buyer’s car was repossessed and sold, and the assignee of the contract sued the buyer for the deficiency. Id. The buyer argued that the contract was usurious “on its face.” Id. The court disagreed, finding that the contract was controlled by Chapter 520 and that the finance charges were not in excess of those authorized by section 520.08. Id. (citing Scarritt Motors, 48 So. 2d at 168).   The buyer has offered no legal basis to distinguish this case from B & D, Taylor, and Scarritt Motors. On this record, the circuit court properly found that the contract in this case, to secure the price of property sold, is not subject to Florida’s general usury statutes. It is within the purview of the legislature to decide what interest rates are permissible; Chapter 520 contains a legislative determination that some higher risk loans are entitled to a higher interest rate than the one allowed by the general usury statute. There are no disputed material facts that preclude the entry of the summary judgment below.