Lieff Cabraser, together with Justice Catalyst, the National Consumer Law Center, Public Counsel, and Towards Justice, represent plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit alleging that the prices of bail bonds in California have been unlawfully inflated by a price-fixing conspiracy. The suit alleged that “sureties”—the companies that back the bonds sold by retail bond agents—have orchestrated a default price of 10% of the bond amount, and have then worked to eliminate discounting that would otherwise have occurred if the market operated competitively. This first-of-its-kind case challenges the alleged conspiracy among sureties and bail agents to inflate bail bond prices.
The defendants include surety companies and certain bail agents operating in California, including Seaview Insurance, American Surety, Allegheny Casualty, International Fidelity, and several others.
According to the Complaint, bail bonds are sold by thousands of bail agents. The non-refundable premiums they charge on the bonds are ultimately controlled by a much smaller group of sureties, who underwrite those bonds, much like insurers. The sureties, in concert with bail agents, have allegedly engaged in a long-running anticompetitive conspiracy to keep bail bond premiums higher than they would be if the California bail-bonds market functioned competitively.
The plaintiff class is defined in the Complaint as: “All persons who, between February 24, 2004 and present (the “Class Period”), paid for part or all of a commercial bail bond premium in connection with a California state court criminal proceeding. Specifically excluded from this Class are Defendants; the officers, directors or employees of any Defendant; any entity in which any Defendant has a controlling interest; any affiliate, legal representative, heir or assign of any Defendant and any person acting on their behalf; any person who acted as a bail agent during the Class Period; any judicial officer presiding over this action and the members of his/her immediate family and judicial staff; and any juror assigned to this action.”
This class action seeks damages for the hundreds of thousands of Californians who overpaid for unlawfully inflated bail bond premiums, and to prevent this unlawful overcharging to continue.