Under the Dome

Appeals court rules against legislator over debt

The state appeals court ruled on Tuesday against veteran state Rep. Mickey Michaux in a protracted credit card debt dispute.

The Durham Democrat owes about $15,000 for purchases he made on a Sears card, but he contends he shouldn’t have to pay the full interest on the balance because he never agreed to new terms when Citibank acquired the Sears credit card portfolio in 2003, and raised the rate. Michaux defaulted in 2009 after making payments on a reduced-interest plan for a year.

In 2014, a judge ruled in Citibank’s favor and ordered Michaux to pay the debt plus interest from the date of judgment, plus court costs and attorneys’ fees. Michaux, who is a lawyer, appealed.

“This is a simple credit card collection case, complicated only by a recalcitrant attorney-defendant and a lack of clear North Carolina precedent,” Citibank attorneys argued in a brief filed in September.

Citibank sought a clear ruling that using a credit card constitutes accepting its terms, and asked the appeals court to establish that precedent by publishing its opinion. Tuesday’s ruling was not published, however.