Monday, June 11, 2007

Case of the $67 $54 million pants comes to trial June 11

I try and read two newspapers a day and I almost always read one. I read the news on line and watch TV. Still, it was the Beach Bum that put me on to this story about an administrative law judge in the District of Columbia who is suing a dry cleaners for the loss of his pants.

His initial claim was for $67 million, $65 million under the DC consumer protection act and another $2 million in "common law claims."

According to Emil Steiner's OFF/beat column in the Washington Post, the Korean family that owns the dry cleaners offered $12,000 to settle the suit. That's $12,000 for a pair of pants.

And, since the story went public, the judge-with-the-$67 million-pants, Roy L. Pearson, has lowered his demand... to $54 million.

Lubna Takruri's AP story about the case can be found at I provide these links because I don't want you to think I'm relaying some sort of Internet hoax.

The AP story says that Judge Pearson's claim against Custom Cleaners now focuses on a couple of signs inside the store. "The suit alleges that the three defendants, Jin Nam Chung, Soo Chung and their son, Ki Chung, committed fraud and misled consumers with signs that claimed 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' and 'Same Day Service.'"

The AP says that Chris Manning, the Chungs' attorney, argues that the signs "could only be considered fraud if the signs were misleading to a 'reasonable' person, and no reasonable person would interpret the signs to be an unconditional promise of satisfaction."

Pearson, not surprisingly, is proceeding in this case pro se. That means he is representing himself. "Because Pearson is representing himself," the AP story reports, "the litigation has cost him nothing." Of course, as Abraham Lincoln once said, "A man who represents himself has a fool for a client." On the other hand, Mr. Manning, the Chungs' lawyer, points out that what Pearson has done, "it appears as a trial strategy, is to keep up his aggressive stance so he keeps costing the Chungs money."

The good news? The trial starts today. Hopefully, it will be finished today as well -- but one can never tell.

This is not Judge Pearson's first brush with aggressive litigation. Here are two different links to a 2005 appeal in his divorce case. This is the Findlaw link; this is the official Virgina link. If you prefer Westlaw and have a subscription, you can find this unpublished appellate opinion at 2005 WL 524597.

(So that's unpublished, eh? But that's a lament for a different occasion.)

Pearson was unemployed at the time of his divorce and he sought maintenance from his ex-wife, also an attorney. The trial court refused -- and, in addition, ordered Pearson to pay $12,000 in legal fees to his wife. The Virginia appellate court affirmed, noting (slip op. at p. 10), "The trial court found that husband was substantially responsible for 'excessive driving up' of the legal costs by 'threatening both wife and her lawyer with disbarment [sic],' and creating unnecessary litigation.... Credible evidence supports the trial court’s ruling. The trial court made specific findings concerning the award of attorney’s fees, including that the litigation was disproportionately long despite the relative simplicity of the case and that husband 'in good part is responsible for excessive driving up of everything that went on here including threatening both the wife and her lawyer with disbarment as a member of both the D.C. bar and Virginia bar,' which created 'unnecessary litigation.'"

And one other thing: According to this May 3, 2007 editorial in the Washington Post, Judge Pearson is up for reappointment to the bench. Clearly the newspaper is against reappointment -- but I think the good people of the District of Columbia need to think this all the way through: If Judge Pearson has no job, what else will he do all day but file more frivolous lawsuits?


INSTANT UPDATE: Before posting this, I found a blog which claims that Judge Pearson was not reappointed. I can not verify this, however, at any 'mainstream' site. Perhaps someone in the D.C. area can advise?


Shelby said...

I first heard about this last week sometime.. unbeleivable - yet not.

Things that make you go hmmmm.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

hi curmy! a "little" wordy today my friend? ha ha... but is was still a good post, honest!


smiles, bee

Jean-Luc Picard said...

That's a weird case to make people think.

may said...

it is soooo hard not to think that this guy is just plain greedy, because maybe he is. maybe.

Barb said...

This is almost unbelievable, but I've heard of so many other idiotic lawsuits.

You heard he wasn't reappointed. Have you heard if the trial is over yet and if so what the outcome was?

Patti said...

Let's hope the trial comes to a speedy conclusion. What a waste of everyone's time.

The Curmudgeon said...

Barb, Patti -- has no news this morning on the trial. Given the coverage that the Post has devoted to the case you'd think they would have had someone covering the court call yesterday, wouldn't you? But I'll keep looking....

Anonymous said...

This is an absolute outrage. Either way of this lawsuits outcome, this judge is ruining his own carreer and life: If he wins, he may have no financial worries, but become one of the most hated men of our century. No one but money hungry low-lifes will want to be around him. At least they'll all share a common sweet.
If he loses, God willing, he'll never be a jugde again. At least not in an upstanding city. So much for a fall-back. However,...dignity, morals, and integrity are 3 strong values I was led to believe all judges should have. All of which, and more,this arrogant, heartless human being lacks.
I hope to see a counter-suit from the dry cleaners; mental anguish, distress, time away from work, etc...I hope they c-sue the "pants" off of this "bully" called a judge. My prayers and wishes of luck are with chungs.