CA Supreme Court Ends Bail Companies’ Ongoing Violation of Consumer Protection Law

By Tommy Nguyen

ALAMEDA, CA – Last week, the California Supreme Court declined to review the California Court of Appeal’s decision holding that bail bonds companies must follow consumer protection laws that protect Californians from exploitative business practices.

The Court of Appeal’s public decision affirmed a preliminary injunction from Alameda County Superior Court that stopped Bad Boys Bail Bonds’s debt collection of $38 million from more than 18,000 bail bond contracts signed since 2017, by families of arrestees who could not afford to post bail.

The decision conclusively prevents Bad Boys from filing legal actions or engaging in any other debt collection efforts against people who were allegedly duped into cosigning Bad Boys’ bail agreements during the pendency of litigation.

The lawsuit was filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP.

“We are ecstatic about the Supreme Court’s decision to deny review, which highlights the strength of our class action claims and signals to all bail bond companies that they will be held to account for violating consumer protection laws,” said Rio Scharf, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Donna Zamora-Stevens, an associate with Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP, sees the Supreme Court’s decision as a victory for thousands of “preyed-upon” Californians who signed paperwork to get their loved ones out of jail, without being aware of the huge debt amounts that await them.

They are gratified by the Court’s decision and look forward to continue pursuing this historic class-action lawsuit, one of the first to challenge commercial bail bond companies for violating consumer protection laws.

The civil rights lawyers said Bad Boys has used illegal means to extract huge sums of money from low-income families on the false promise of helping get their loved ones released from jail for only a small fee.

These family members sign credit bail agreements that hold them responsible for the entire bail amount owed—without the mandatory cosigner disclosures required under California law.

Cosigners would later find themselves saddled with thousands of dollars in debt about which Bad Boys failed to provide them statutorily required notice.

According to the appellate court decision, on June 21, 2018, plaintiff Kiara Caldwell was contacted by Bad Boys and asked to sign several documents and provide a bail bond premium for her friend who was arrested in the City of San Leandro.

Caldwell agreed to make an initial down payment of $500, and was then forced to pay the balance due of $4,500 charged by the company in $450 monthly installments until paid entirely.

The lawsuit charges Bad Boys attempted to terrorize her family and threaten her job in an effort to make her resume the installment payments which she was unable to make beyond the initial $500 deposit.

Another cosigner, co-complainant Donzahniya Pitre attested to similar aggressive collection efforts by the company after paying $600 towards a bail bond for her cognitively impaired brother and being told that she “would not be responsible for any subsequent payments.”

The courts agreed that Bad Boys Bail Bond failed to inform these cosigners about the true nature behind their contracts, violating the California consumer law and regulations specifically meant to protect consumers from suspicious commercial bail bond transactions.

The courts ordered the company to rectify its illegal practices, adhere to consumer protection laws, and provide restitution and relief to Caldwell and Pitre, along with all the Californians burdened by the illegal debts and terrorization.

About The Author

Tommy is a sophomore majoring in Economics and minoring in Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He is an international student from Vietnam and fueled with the frustration agaisnt flawed justice system that lets down the minority. He is aspired to become a criminal justice attorney and will hopefully attend law school in 2025.

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1 Comment

  1. PhillipColeman

    What an interesting application of our existing Consumer Protection Laws. Make you wonder why the Bail Bond Industry in California has never been put into this legal spotlight before.

    The legal ripples of this decision from the State’s highest court are momentous. Bail Bond companies in every corner of the state are bracing themselves for costly litigation, something that few of them can endure. Equally significant, California has always been regarded as a Bellweather State, where cultural, legal, and historical precedent is set, then mimicked by the rest of the country.

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