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CHARLES SKOLNICK AND SARAH SKOLNICK v. FORD MOTOR CREDIT COMPANY (09/16/83)

filed: September 16, 1983.

CHARLES SKOLNICK AND SARAH SKOLNICK, HIS WIFE, APPELLANTS,
v.
FORD MOTOR CREDIT COMPANY



No. 2936 PHILADELPHIA, 1981, Appeal from an Order Entered October 29, 1981, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division, No. 4799 January Term, 1980.

COUNSEL

Joel Weisberg, Harrisburg, for appellants.

William H. Lowery, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Hester, Johnson and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Hester

[ 319 Pa. Super. Page 85]

On July 10, 1978, John Kennedy Ford, a motor vehicle sales corporation, contracted in writing to sell a used 1974 Chevrolet Caprice to appellants, Charles Skolnick and Sarah Skolnick, husband and wife. The cash price of the vehicle was $2,515.00; appellants made a down payment of $600.00, leaving an unpaid cash price balance of $1,915.00. Use and sales tax of $150.90, along with registration fees of $43.10, were added to the unpaid cash price balance, culminating in a principal amount financed of $2,109.00. A finance charge of $629.70 was added to the principal amount financed and a time balance of $2,738.00 was reached. A deferred payment price of $3,338.70 was derived from adding the down payment to the time balance. Twenty-nine monthly installments of $91.29 and one installment of $91.29, commencing on August 24, 1978, were set forth in the agreement. Following execution of the agreement and prior to commencement of the lower court action, John Kennedy Ford assigned the contract to appellee, Ford Motor Credit Company.

On January 30, 1980, appellants filed a Complaint in Assumpsit in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County against appellee for alleged violations of the Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act,*fn1 hereinafter "MVSFA", and the Pennsylvania Maximum Interest Rates Law,*fn2 hereinafter "Interest Law". According to appellants, the alleged violations were predicated upon appellee's use of an annual finance charge rate of 21.35%, computed on a simple interest basis. The MVSFA authorized a maximum finance charge rate of 12% on the installment sale of the class of motor vehicles*fn3 to which the 1974 Chevrolet Caprice belonged.

Appellants filed the assumpsit complaint as a class action under Pa.R.C.P. No. 1701 on behalf of several thousand

[ 319 Pa. Super. Page 86]

    individuals and entities purchasing used motor vehicles from appellee beginning with July 10, 1978, and thereafter. Appellants sought for themselves and other class members a permanent injunction enjoining appellee from continuing its practice of charging unlawful interest rates to purchasers of used motor vehicles under installment-sale contracts and damages of triple the amount of interest in excess of the maximum amount permitted under the MVSFA. Damages were pursued according to the calculation provided for in the Interest Law. 41 P.S. § 502. Appellants also included within their prayer a demand for reasonable costs, expenses and attorney fees pursuant to § 503 of the Interest Law.

Appellee filed a petition for the removal of the proceedings to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; however, in response to appellants' motion to remand, the District Court remanded the case to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Thereafter, appellee filed a motion for summary judgment; it was granted and judgment was entered for appellee. Appellants filed this timely appeal from the Order, dated October 29, 1981, granting appellee's motion for summary judgment.

Pursuant to the filing of appellee's motion for summary judgment, the parties stipulated as to the facts, including the terms of the installment contract discussed above. Additionally, it was stipulated that the MVSFA, applicable to the retail installment sale herein, became effective June 28, 1947, and its administration and enforcement has been entrusted since that time to the Pennsylvania Department of Banking; that the 1974 Chevrolet Caprice was a Class III vehicle as defined in § 619(A) of the MVSFA; therefore, an annual maximum finance charge rate of 12% for an installment sale of such a vehicle was applicable; that the Department of Banking has continuously computed the maximum finance charge permitted under § 619 ...


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