Caught With His Pants Down

My faith in the US legal system is slowly being restored, one case at a time.

First, my superhero Judge Sauer throws the book at the whining slurry known to most as Paris Hilton. Now, my newest superhero Judge Judith Bartnoff delivers the much-needed kick up the cuffless pants belonging to the twat disguised as a defender and beholder of the law.

Just as I had hoped, Judge Bartnoff ruled in favour of the dry cleaners and ordered Pearson to pay for all court costs incurred by the Chungs. After becoming an international fool and making a mockery of the US legal system, Pearson may soon find himself without a job and facing financial ruin, as the Chungs prepare to launch their own lawsuit against Pearson to recover the thousands of dollars they spent on defending themselves against an idiot hell bent on abusing the legal system. Here’s hoping their lawyer also seeks damages for emotional distress and work related compensation.

This is a good lesson for anyone hoping to make a fast buck by suing another – justice is not always blind. Hip hip hooray for Judge Bartnoff!

More coverage of this story can be found here. I liked the below story the best, hence the reproduction in full.

Ruling for Dry Cleaner May Spell Bigger Woes for D.C. Judge Roy Pearson

By Henrí E. Cauvin and Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 25, 2007; 4:58 PM

The D.C. Superior Court judge who ruled that an administrative law judge deserved nothing in his $54 million lawsuit against a neighborhood dry cleaner over a pair of lost pants "chose common sense over irrationality," said the attorney who represented the Chung family, owners of Custom Cleaners.

"Obviously, it’s a great day for the Chungs, and honestly it’s a great day for American justice," attorney Christopher Manning said at a Monday afternoon press conference outside the Chungs’ store.

Delivering her decision in writing, Judge Judith Bartnoff wrote 23 pages dissecting and dismissing Roy Pearson’s claim that he was defrauded by the Chungs and their "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign.

"A reasonable consumer would not interpret ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer’s unreasonable demands or to accede to demands that the merchant has reasonable grounds to dispute," the ruling said. "… The plaintiff is not entitled to any relief whatsoever."

It was a pointed rebuke of Pearson’s claim, and came with an order to pay the cleaners’ court costs. But even bigger troubles may loom for Pearson.

Financially, he could soon be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees incurred by the owners of Customer Cleaners. Attorneys for the Chungs have said they will seek such payments, as well as sanctions against Pearson for bringing the lawsuit. Bartnoff said in her ruling that she would decide those issues after both sides have filed their motions, counter-motions and legal briefs.

Professionally, Pearson could find himself out of his $96,000-a-year job as an administrative law judge for the District government.

All that is certain right now is that he won’t be getting the multi-million dollar payout he demanded when he filed suit in 2005 against Soo Chung and her husband, the owners of Custom Cleaners. Originally, Pearson had asked for $65 million, but by the time the case went to trial two weeks ago, Pearson had lowered his demand to $54 million.

No one, not even Pearson argued that his pants were actually worth $54 million. The whole suit had cost just over a thousands dollars, and letting out the waist, as Pearson had asked the cleaners to do, was only going to cost him $10.50.

But this case – decried by both trial lawyers and the defense bar – was, to Pearson, about far more than the pair of pants.

It was about safeguarding the rights of every consumer in the District who, Pearson argued, might fall prey to signs like those once posted in Custom Cleaners. Satisfaction was in fact not guaranteed, Pearson argued, and his own experience put the lie to the supposed promise.

For years, Pearson had been a customer of Custom Cleaners, the only dry cleaners in easy walking distance of his home in the Northeast Washington neighborhood of Fort Lincoln. Even after a squabble several years ago over another pair of lost pants, Pearson continued to patronize the Bladensburg Road NE business.

So when Pearson was hired in April 2005 to be an administrative law judge and needed to have all of his suit trousers altered, he went to Custom Cleaners to have the work done.

Until he landed the judgeship, Pearson had been out of work. Strapped for cash and running up close to his limit on his credit cards, he brought his pants in one or two at a time to avoid maxing out his credit.

On May 3, he brought in the pants he planned to wear three days later. But on May 5, the pants were not ready, and the next day, May 6, they were nowhere to be found.

What happened next was perhaps the key factual dispute in the case. Pearson claims the pants weren’t there on May 7 either and that Chung promised to keep looking.

When he returned a week later, on May 14, Chung tried to give him what she said were the missing pants. But Pearson said they were not the pants he had left to be altered. Not only was the pattern different, but the pants proffered as his had of all things, cuffs.

Only once in his adult life, he said, had he worn cuffed pants, and never, he suggested, would he have so defiled his treasured Hickey Freeman suits.

Chung testified that after being brought to the wrong store, the pants were returned to the Bladensburg store late on May 6 and that Pearson rejected them on May 7. After returning to the store on May 14 and again being offered the cuffed pants, Pearson wrote the Chungs, demanding $1,150 to buy a new suit.

When the Chungs did not respond, Pearson swung into action, filing a lawsuit that would eventually make him the talk of the town and fodder for late-night comedy.

Along the way, he rejected offers to settle, first for $3,000, then for $4,600 and finally for $12,000. A judge headed off Pearson’s efforts to turn the case into a sort of sweeping class-action suit and tried to rein in his "excessive" demands for documents. But the judge found he could not simply dismiss the claim, and that meant Roy L. Pearson Jr. vs. Soo Chung et al. was going to trial.

By the time it did, on June 12, it was in the hands of a new judge, Bartnoff, and it lived up to its billing. Media hordes descended, including television crews from Korea, where the Chungs were born. CNN updated its viewers frequently.

A dozen witnesses testified. One, called on behalf of the plaintiff, compared the dry cleaners to the Nazis.

When Pearson testified, he lost his composure and began to cry.

When she took the witness stand, Soo Chung did the same.

Although a daughter-in-law acting as translator at the press conference said the past two years had been very hard on the Chungs, they held no hard feelings toward Pearson and would even welcome him back as a customer.

"If he wants to continue using our services, then, yes, he is welcome," Soo Chung said.

Although no one before Pearson had ever complained about the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign, the Chungs said they will take it down to guard against frivolous lawsuits.

"Sadly, this case is not an isolated occurrence," said Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federal of Independent Business Legal Foundation. "Small-business owners like the Chungs live in fear every day that they will be the next victim of a frivolous lawsuit and could possibly lose their business."

Lubna Takruri from the Associated Press also reported on the outcomes of this case, and I especially liked the way she concluded her story titled "Dry Cleaner Wins Missing Pants Case", reproduced below.

The case garnered international attention and renewed calls for litigation reform.

"This case was giving American justice a black eye around the world, and it was all the more upsetting because it was a judge and lawyer who was bringing the suit," said Paul Rothstein, a Georgetown University law professor.

Rothstein said Monday’s ruling "restores one’s confidence in the legal system."

Calls have come from around the world for Pearson to lose his position on the bench and be disbarred. The city’s chief administrative law judge is still considering Pearson’s 10-year reappointment.

Now, how does one apply for a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star?? I need 2 application forms!


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