Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Monday, October 26, 2009

What is a CASH PRICE VIOLATION (under the Texas Finance Code)?

CASH PRICE VIOLATION CLAIM UNDER THE TEX. FIN. CODE IN CONNECTION WITH PURCHASE OF CAR, TRUCK, MOTOR VEHICLE: When is it viable? When Not? A cash price violation occurs when a dealership establishes a cash price for the vehicle, but sells the vehicle for more than the price established. Collins v. Fred Haas Toyota, 21 S.W.3d 606, 607 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2000, no pet.). The finance code defines cash price as the “price at which the retail seller offers in the ordinary course of business to sell for cash the goods or services that are subject to the transaction.” Tex. Fin. Code Ann. § 348.004(a) (Vernon 2006). The underlying purpose of a cause of action for a cash price violation is to prevent a dealership from charging a finance customer more than a cash customer for the same vehicle. Collins, 21 S.W.3d at 607. In Collins, the plaintiff entered into a financing agreement and purchased a car from the dealership. He later sued complaining of a cash price violation when he learned that on the same day that he purchased the car, the dealership advertised it for less than the price he had paid. Id. at 607. The trial court granted summary judgment for the dealership on the basis that an advertisement cannot establish a cash price unless it is relied upon. Id. The court of appeals reversed. The court held that reliance is not an element of a cash price violation. Id. at at 608. The cash price and the negotiated price agreed upon between the dealership and the buyer are not the same. The finance code provides that the retail installment contract must contain the “cash price of the retail installment transaction.” Tex. Fin. Code Ann. § 348.102(a)(5) (Vernon 2006). It is the negotiated price that the retail installment contract must contain, not the cash price that the dealership offered the vehicle in the ordinary course of business to all customers. As noted by the court in Collins, the cash price of the vehicle was the price the dealership “offered the vehicle in the ordinary course of business to all customers, not the price ultimately agreed on and stated in the contract.” Collins, 21 S.W.3d at 608. The trial court found a violation because the “negative equity that was rolled into this retail installment contract was not put in the proper location.” In his appellee's brief, Kuberski states “Bledsoe's inclusion of financed negative equity in Mr. Kuberski's contracted-for cash price violated the Texas Finance Code and federal disclosure requirements.” However, failure to separately disclose the negative equity is not relevant to a determination of a cash price violation. Moreover, the contracted-for cash price, alone, does not determine a cash price violation under the finance code. See Collins, 21 S.W.3d at 607. What qualifies as a "finance charge"? - Financing of Negative Equity to Pay off Loan on Trade-In Not Included The finance code does not define the term finance charge. The finance code provides that the disclosure requirements of Regulation Z under the Truth in Lending Act apply to retail installment contracts in Texas. See Tex. Fin. Code Ann. § 348.009 (Vernon 2006). Regulation Z defines finance charge as “any charge payable directly or indirectly by the consumer and imposed directly or indirectly by the creditor as an incident to or a condition of the extension of credit.” 12 C.F.R. § 226.4 (2003). Negative equity does not fit within this definition. SOURCE: 05-08-00071-CV (Dallas CoA) (1/30/09) (no cash-price violation based on inclusion of financed negative equity for trade-in in loan for new truck) CITE: Bledsoe Dodge, L.L.C. v. Kuberski, 279 S.W.3d 839 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2009, no pet.)