Arizona Usury Statute Action

In Seargeant v. Smith, Roscoe Smith brought an action under the usury statute to recover amounts paid for options to purchase vehicles. 63 Ariz. 466, 467-68, 163 P.2d 680, 680-81 (1945). Pursuant to their arrangement, Smith, a used car dealer, would find a used car for L.H. Seargeant, a licensed money lender, to buy. The car was placed on Smith's lot, and Seargeant would give Smith an option on the car. Under the option, Smith was entitled to purchase the car for the exact sum of the advanced purchase price. As consideration for the option, Smith paid 3.5% per month of the amount Seargeant had paid for the car. Whenever Smith sold one of the cars, he would exercise the option by paying Seargeant the amount mentioned in the option. Smith eventually sued Seargeant, alleging that the sums paid by Smith and received by Seargeant as consideration for the options were interest in excess of 8% per annum, and therefore violated the usury statute. See id. The Seargeant court found that there was an implied obligation to return the amount advanced in payment for each vehicle. Id. at 470, 163 P.2d at 682. In concluding that the transaction was usurious, the court explained that "'unlawful intent' is presumed from the mere fact of intentionally doing what is forbidden by statute." Id. at 469, 163 P.2d at 681.