NY Appellate Division Rules One Funder’s Contract Crossed Loan Threshold

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While New York’s Appellate Division has previously decided what’s not usury when it comes to MCA transactions, the Second Department has now ruled what is.

On Wednesday, the Court issued its decision in Crystal Springs Capital, Inc v. Big Thicket Coin, LLC et al, a case that had otherwise started out as a routine breach of contract action related to the purchase of future receivables in the New York Supreme Court back in September of 2020. When defendants never appeared, the plaintiff obtained a default judgment eleven months later. That sparked a response from the defendants who then sought to vacate it on several grounds, including by arguing that the underlying agreement was really a criminally usurious loan. The Court rejected the argument for several reasons, citing that the “reconciliation language in the Agreement is nonillusory” and stating plainly that “a merchant cash advance agreement is not a loan and therefore its terms are not usurious.” Vacatur denied. Defendants appealed.

Given the history in New York (1st Dept, 4th Dept, etc.), the case was hardly news, until now.

In the new Decision & Order, the Court said that “the defendants established that the agreement constituted a criminally usurious loan.” In support of that outcome, the Court said that the plaintiff was “under no obligation” to reconcile the payments and that the full uncollected purchased amount plus all fees were due in default even if the business declared bankruptcy. (View contract at issue here)

“Together, these terms established that the agreement was a loan, pursuant to which repayment was absolute, rather than a purchase of future receipts under which repayment was contingent upon the Big Thicket defendants’ actual sales,” the Court said. “The plaintiff does not dispute that the agreement effected an annual interest rate exceeding the criminally usurious threshold of 25%.”

The judgment was vacated.

Last modified: October 12, 2023

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