Lawsuit over loan can proceed, appeals court rules

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Jul. 19—GUILFORD COUNTY — A Guilford County woman can continue her lawsuit seeking to get out of a car-title loan with an exorbitant interest rate, the N.C. Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Brenda Warley took out the $1,020 loan in from Automoney Inc., which is based in South Carolina, in June 2018 and filed suit two years later, seeking to have the loan declared void and unenforceable, in part because its 179% annual interest rate violates North Carolina consumer-protection law. Warley also alleged Automoney used deceptive advertising practices.

Automoney sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, in part because of a clause in the loan agreement specifying that South Carolina law governs the loan, and denied that its practices or advertising were deceptive.

A Guilford County Superior Court judge refused in November 2020 to dismiss the lawsuit.

The N.C. Court of Appeals upheld that decision, citing prior court decisions in cases with nearly identical circumstances.

In a separate ruling Tuesday, the court also ruled against Automoney in a lawsuit filed by a Hoke County woman seeking to declare her $720 car-title loan with a 158% interest rate to be void and unenforceable.