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Lawyer Sues the Pants off Dry Cleaner Over a Pair of Pants

No matter what kind of pun you apply to this lawsuit -- either suing the pants off a mom-and-pop operation or taking them to the cleaners -- lawyer and administrative law Judge Roy Pearson's $65 million lawsuit against a neighborhood dry cleaner for misplacing his pants is simply not funny. As detailed in this commentary piece by Mark Fisher in the Washington Post (4/26/07), here's what happened. In 2005, Pearson dropped off a pair of pants at Custom Cleaner on May 3 to wear them to his new job May 6. The pants weren't ready when promised or the next day. A week later, the cleaners produced a pair of pants that it believed belonged to Pearson, but Pearson claimed they were not his. So Pearson wrote to the store, demanding $1,150 to buy a new suit. And then, Fisher writes, "Two lawyers and many legal bills later, the Chungs offered Pearson $3,000, then $4,600 and, finally, says their attorney, Chris Manning, $12,000 to settle the case."

So how'd the suit get this far? Pearson claims that he relied on signs in the store, stating "satisfaction guaranteed." The cleaners' failure to satisfy Pearson put them in violation of D.C.'s consumer protection law that provides for damages of $1,500 per day, which at 12 violations per day (not sure how Pearson arrived at that figure) eventually add up to $65 million. And Pearson even tried to expand the suit to include violations on behalf of all D.C. residents, a claim that led the judge to express concern that Pearson is acting in bad faith.

I can't even imagine the toll that this case has taken on the couple who own the cleaning store. I hope that they're represented by an attorney who's honorable enough to make them realize that not all lawyers are like Pearson. As for Pearson, I can imagine the appropriate remedy for a lawyer who persists in pursuing $65 million for a pair of lost pants: How about a lost license to practice law? That seems like a fair trade.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 26, 2007 at 07:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (34)


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