A Bounty Hunter Under Fire

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An unusual client reveals how some of the toughest workers can be the most vulnerable to legal action.

Jay Soriano is a fugitive recovery agent, or bounty hunter, with a career spanning 30 years. During a recent case, a convicted felon fled her sentencing hearing and became a plaintiff against Mr. Soriano, who faced the matter with no representation, insurance, or bond coverage. Partner Allan Anderson initially learned about Mr. Soriano after meeting him through a mutual connection and Arent Fox took on the challenge of this unconventional pro bono client.

The fugitive, who became the plaintiff in this matter, bolted after she was convicted of felony theft in the misappropriation of $25,000 from  a church member for a real estate scam. Mr. Soriano tracked her down in Palm Springs where she was hiding under an assumed name, and presented her to the Los Angeles County Sheriff for incarceration. The plaintiff, represented by one of the larger plaintiffs firms in Los Angeles, then filed a civil rights lawsuit against the county and bail bondsman, which eventually called for Mr. Soriano’s deposition. Mr. Soriano was deposed without counsel and was subsequently named in the suit for wrist injuries due to the handcuffs, as well as attempted assault.

Mr. Soriano, despite decades of work as a bounty hunter, had no viable assets and no liability coverage on his automobile policy. His employer, the bail bondsman, was also in a strained financial situation and did not bond his business, so he was only able to retain an attorney for limited representation. Accordingly, despite Arent Fox’s attempts, the tender of defense to the employer was rejected. At the time, Mr.

Soriano was the sole party without counsel in this case. During his deposition without counsel, Mr. Soriano made prejudicial and irrelevant admissions that would not have been disclosed if he had representation, a situation which his Arent Fox team felt was unjust.

Mr. Soriano’s career hung in the balance in this case – a finding against him in trial would have precluded him from obtaining employment as an official law enforcement officer, which was his ultimate objective. The Arent Fox team, led by Allan and with support from Grace Du, Kirsten Hart, and Niani Cobb-Phillips, settled the case just before trial with a favorable result on behalf of Mr. Soriano.

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