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ALAMEDA — Last week, the California Supreme Court declined to review the California Court of Appeal’s decision holding that bail bonds companies cannot operate their businesses in violation of consumer protection laws — which protects Californians from unscrupulous business practices. The Court of Appeal’s decision affirmed a preliminary injunction from Alameda County Superior Court that halted Bad Boys Bail Bonds’ debt collection efforts on $38 million in consumer credit contracts signed by the loved ones of arrestees who did not have the money to post bail.
This historic class action lawsuit on behalf of bail bond cosigners is one of the first to challenge a commercial bail bond company for violating consumer protection laws. The California Supreme Court’s decision not to review the Appeal Court’s published decision confirms that the bail bond industry must follow consumer protection laws, a precedent that will support application of such laws in the bail industry nationwide.
“The California Supreme Court rejected Bad Boys Bail Bonds’ attempt to overturn the injunction barring it from its illegal efforts to collect more than $38 million of debt from Californians who have bailed their loved ones out of jail,” said Rio Scharf, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. “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.”
“This decision is a victory for thousands of preyed-upon Californians, and a blow to the bail industry,” said Donna Zamora-Stevens, an associate with Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP. “The preliminary injunction prevents Bad Boys Bail Bonds from continuing to target and harass individuals who, in efforts to get their loved ones out of jail, signed paperwork without understanding the huge amounts of debt that they were getting into. We are gratified with this decision and look forward to continuing to pursue this important class action.”
The lawsuit was filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP.
Since 2017, Bad Boys has issued over 18,000 bail bond contracts, with the outstanding debt on those contracts totaling nearly $38 million. This decision conclusively prevents Bad Boys from filing legal actions or engaging in any other debt collection efforts against people duped into cosigning Bad Boys’ bail agreements during the pendency of our litigation.
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 later find themselves saddled with thousands of dollars in debt about which Bad Boys failed to provide them statutorily required notice.
Plaintiff Kiara Caldwell cosigned what she believed to be a $500 bail bond payment for her friend during a rushed, misleading 15-minute meeting with the company. Bad Boys then charged her $4,500, threatened her job and hounded her family, and sued her. Co-Complainant Donzahniya Pitre cosigned and paid $600 towards a bail bond for her cognitively impaired brother after Bad Boys told her that she would not be responsible for any subsequent payments. Months later, Bad Boys began harassing her for payment and subjecting her to menacing calls, multiple times each week.
Bad Boys violated California consumer law by failing to inform Ms. Caldwell, Ms. Pitre, and others in their position about the true nature of their contracts, and has violated regulations specifically meant to provide transparency in commercial bail bond transactions.
The class action lawsuit demands that Bad Boys rectify its illegal practices, stop violating consumer protection laws, and provide full restitution and relief to Ms. Caldwell, Ms. Pitre, and all other cosigners in California saddled with illegal debt from the company.