Dominic and Antoinette Passarelli (defendants) obtained a $10,000 loan from Equitable Mortgage & Investment Corporation (Equitable). Under the promissory note, the Passarellis were to repay a total of $16,260 over a period of 60 months. The promissory note charged a usurious rate of interest that exceeded the amount allowed by law. Before the promissory note was executed, Winter & Hirsch, Inc. (Winter) (plaintiff), issued a check for $11,000 to Equitable with a notation that the funds were for the Passarellis’ loan. The Passarellis defaulted on the loan, and Winter sued the Passarellis, claiming to be a holder in due course of the promissory note. The Passarellis raised the defense of usury. The trial court found that Winter was a holder in due course of the promissory note, rejected the Passarellis’ defense of usury, and entered judgment in favor of Winter. The Passarellis appealed.