Our Stories

Suit Alleges Bail Bonds in California have been Unlawfully Inflated by a Price-Fixing Conspiracy

January 29, 2019

Public Counsel has joined with Lieff Cabraser, Justice Catalyst, the National Consumer Law Center, and Towards Justice, to 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 first-of-its-kind suit alleges 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 rigged system disproportionately hurts low-income folks and their families, who are often the ones scrambling to get their loved ones freed from jail and back home. Despite representations from the bail industry that a 10% premium is required, we know that legally they can charge less.” —Stephanie Carroll, senior staff attorney with Public Counsel.

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.

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.

If you purchased a bail bond in California from 2004 to the present, you may have a claim. You can contact an antitrust attorney through this WEBSITE.

Read the complaint HERE

Read the Press Release HERE

Press Coverage: