Rachel Marshall, (415) 416-4468 / Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org
SAN FRANCISCO—Today, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and the Prosecutors Alliance of California announced the filing of an amicus brief in the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, in support of the class action lawsuit brought by Kiara Ferrari Caldwell against Bad Boys Bail Bond Corporation.
“For too long, the bail bond industry has operated with impunity while it has exploited desperate and vulnerable people, who are disproportionately people of color, during some of the most stressful moments in their lives. Enforcing consumer protection laws against this kind of unlawful behavior protects vulnerable community members and enhances public safety,” said San Francisco District Attorney Boudin. “Every dollar wrongfully diverted to businesses like Bad Boys is a dollar less for education, housing, and health care, all of which have been shown to reduce interactions with the criminal justice system. This case reinforces our office’s policy never to seek money bail to ensure that no one is incarcerated—or taken advantage of—simply for their poverty.”
“Unfortunately, the alleged tactics of Bad Boy Bail Bonds is consistent with the behavior of an industry that preys on the indigent at their most desperate moments,” said Cristine DeBerry, Founder and Executive Director of the Prosecutors Alliance. “The Alliance and its members are standing up to protect consumers from predatory lenders that trap our most vulnerable in a cycle that undermines their security and the safety of our community.”
According to court records, the lawsuit stems from Ms. Caldwell’s interaction with Bad Boy Bail Bonds on June 21, 2018, when she received a call from the company asking her to come to their office in Oakland to post bail for her friend. Ms. Caldwell’s friend had been arrested for shoplifting.
During a rushed, fifteen-minute meeting with Bad Boys, Ms. Caldwell cosigned what she believed to be an agreement for a one-time $500 payment for her friend. Instead, she had unknowingly agreed to be responsible for paying the remainder of the bail premium, amounting to an additional $4,500 in installments. Ms. Caldwell, who could hardly afford to retrieve the $500 from the nearby ATM, would not have signed the contract had she been notified of the implications as required under California law.
In July 2018, Bad Boys is alleged to have begun a three-month campaign of harassing phone calls to Ms. Caldwell, her family members, and her employer. The company then sued her. In response, Ms. Caldwell filed a class action cross-complaint, alleging that Bad Boys’ bail premium financing agreements are unlawful because Bad Boys does not provide notice to cosigners as required for all consumer credit contracts pursuant to California Civil Code section 1799.91.
On April 9, 2021 Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman granted Ms. Caldwell’s request for a preliminary injunction, ordering Bad Boys to stop filing lawsuits against cosigners who did not receive the notice and cease all attempts to collect money from them. At stake are approximately 18,000 contracts and $38 million of bail premium debt incurred across California. Bad Boys appealed Judge Seligman’s order. Today the Prosecutors Alliance, joined by the Santa Clara County District Attorney, filed an amicus brief in support of Ms. Caldwell and her proposed class.
As noted in the Prosecutors Alliance amicus brief, consumer protection laws safeguard vulnerable cosigners who are often desperate to bail their close friends or loved ones out of jail. Unnoticed bail premium financing agreements threaten to entrap those already living in poverty in long-lasting cycles of debt. These impacts fall disproportionately on people of color, like Ms. Caldwell.
The bail bonds companies profit off of the exorbitantly high fees they charge to largely low-income individuals in their most desperate moments. At the same time, wealthier individuals typically receive more favorable loans. In many instances, wealthier people can easily pay the bail set by the court without the assistance of a bonds company and can receive a full refund at the conclusion of a case. This practice perpetuates inequality throughout the criminal legal system.
The amicus brief was written by Eduardo E. Santacana and Joshua D. Anderson, of Willkie Farr and Gallagher LLP, who represented the Prosecutors Alliance, a project of Tides Advocacy, pro bono, as well as San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Alex Feigen Fasteau.
Rachel Marshall, (415) 416-4468 / Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org
以支持集體訴訟控告 Bad Boys 保釋金公司
三藩市 — 今天，三藩市地檢官博徹思和加州檢察官聯盟宣布，在加州上訴法院第一上訴區提交非當事人書狀，以支持 Kiara Ferrari Caldwell 提出的集體訴訟控告 Bad Boys 保釋金公司。
「長期以來，保釋金行業一直有恃無恐地營運；它在一些人生命中最受壓的時刻進行剝削，而這些絕望和脆弱的人大多是有色人種。對這類非法行徑執行消費者保護法，可以保護弱勢社群成員和加強公眾安全。」三藩市地檢官博徹思說：「每多一元被錯誤轉移到如 Bad Boys 般的企業，就是減少一元用於教育、住房和醫療保健，這些都有助證可減低進入刑事司法體系。此案件增潤我們地檢署的政策，絕不尋求金錢保釋，以確保無人僅僅因為貧困而被囚禁或被利用。」
「不幸的是，Bad Boys 保釋金公司的所謂策略，正與在最絕望時刻掠奪窮人的團夥行徑一致；」檢察官聯盟創始人兼行政總監 Cristine DeBerry 說：「本聯盟及其成員站出來保護消費者免受掠奪性借貸方的侵害，它把我們最脆弱的人厄困於一個侵害他們應得保障和破壞我們社區安全的循環中。」
根據法庭記錄，這起訴訟源於 Caldwell 女士於2018年6月21日與 Bad Boy 保釋金公司的交流溝通；當時她接到這公司的電話，要求她到其屋崙辦公室為她的朋友保釋。Caldwell 女士的朋友因店內盜竊被捕。
在與 Bad Boys 的15分鐘匆忙會面中，Caldwell 女士為她的朋友聯同簽署了一份她認為是一次性支付$500 元的協議。相反地，她在不知情中同意負責支付剩餘的保釋金，總數為$4,500元的額外分期付款。Caldwell 女士幾乎負擔不起從鄰近提款機提取的$500元，如獲告知加州法例規定的後果，她就不會簽署合約。
在2018年7月，Bad Boys 被指稱開始了為期三個月對 Caldwell 女士、其家人和雇主的電話騷擾。該公司隨後對她發起訴訟。作為回應，Caldwell 女士提出了交叉投訴式集體訴訟，指稱 Bad Boys 的保釋金融資協議是非法的，因為 Bad Boys 沒有按照加州民法典第 1799.91 節的要求，向所有消費者信貸合約的聯署人提供告知。
在2021年4月9日，阿拉米達縣高等法院法官 Brad Seligman 批准 Caldwell 女士的初步禁令請求，命令 Bad Boys 停止對未獲告知的聯署人發起訴訟，及制止向他們收款的所有嘗試。危在旦夕的，還有加州中尚存約18,000份合約和$3,800萬元的保釋金債務。Bad Boys 對 Seligman 法官的命令提出上訴。今天檢察官聯盟與聖克拉拉縣地區檢察官，聯名提交一份非當事人書狀以支持 Caldwell 女士和她提出的集體訴訟。
正如檢察官聯盟的非當事人書狀所言，消費者保護法保障弱勢的聯署人，他們常在徬徨絕望時嘗試把摰親密友保釋出獄。未有注意保釋金融資協議，能使那些已經生活貧困的人陷入長期債務循環。這影響到大多是有色人種，就如 Caldwell 女士。
非當事人書狀由 Willkie Farr and Gallagher LLP 的 Eduardo E. Santacana 和 Joshua D. Anderson 撰寫，他們代表檢察官聯盟，一個 Tides Advocacy 的公益義務項目，及三藩市助理地區檢察官 Alex Feigen Fasteau。