Today, we’re going to talk about a frivolous lawsuit that brings a whole new meaning to the expression to “sue the pants off of someone.”
The lawsuit began in 2005 when Judge Roy Pearson in Washington D.C. went to his neighborhood dry cleaner to get his pants altered.
The Pants Suit
He took them to Custom Cleaners, a family-owned chain of dry cleaners that boasted “Same Day Service” and “Satisfaction Guaranteed.”
Somewhere along the way, the pants were accidentally sent to another branch of the dry cleaner, where they were altered and returned to the original dry cleaner a few days later.
You could say that Pearson got his pants in a wad, because he certainly wasn’t satisfied with this service. In fact, Pearson felt so short suited that he refused to take the pants back and sued the owners, the Chung Family for 65 million dollars.
He claimed that the pants they gave back to him were not his, even though the Chungs were able to verify their records, tags, and Pearson’s receipts to show they were his pants.
These must’ve been Pearson’s favorite pair of pants, because Pearson claimed that the missing pants cost him severe inconvenience and mental anguish. Before filing the lawsuit, Pearson wanted compensation for the pants, claiming they were over $1000.
When the Chungs wouldn’t give in to his demands, Pearson swooped in with a second fraud law suit, claiming that the “Satisfaction Guaranteed” advertisement was fraud.
Pearson wanted $500,000 in attorney’s fees (he represented himself), $2 million for inconvenience and mental distress, and $15,000 to rent a car every week to go to another dry cleaning service. The rest of the money, he wanted to help other unhappy costumers.
Clearly, this is a case of a dramatic (albeit educated) Judge that wanted to quarrel and was trying to work the system. In fact, this case was so theatrical that they even made an episode of Law & Order based off of it.
A Case of Taking Things Too Personal
Pearson put on quite the show in court and broke down during his testimony, while explaining the emotional pain the cleaners caused by giving him the wrong pants. After his testimony, an 89-year-old woman in a wheelchair testified, saying she’d been chased out of the cleaners by angry owners. She compared the immigrant Chung family to Nazis.
Pearson dramatically claimed on the stands that “never before in recorded history have a group of defendants engaged in such misleading and unfair business practices.” He also claimed that it was his responsibility as a community member to sue the Chungs on behalf of everyone in D.C., since they’d falsely advertised “Satisfaction Guaranteed.”
Pearson even went as far as to refer to himself as the personal pronoun, “we” in his claim that he was representing everyone in town. The Judge on the case, Judge Bartnoff humorously shot him down saying “Mr. Pearson, you’re not a ‘we.’ You are an ‘I.’”
Pearson went on to call a bunch of witness to the stand, who had unsatisfying experiences at Custom Cleaners. However, all of the witnesses said they would have been satisfied if they’d been given compensation for the amount of the value of their damaged or lost clothes.
The majority of the witnesses said they’d had positive encounters at Custom Cleaners. None of the witnesses said anything about deserving millions of dollars for being unsatisfied with their transaction. After questioning his witnesses, Pearson became incredibly frustrated and spent two hours ranting about his lost pants. He ended his rant teary eyed in anger.
Luckily, the case was brought to justice, after a series of dramatic accounts. It came to light that Pearson was just a hostile man, who had recently undergone a divorce. He’d suffered from a series of financial difficulties and had it out for the Chungs.
Apparently, in 2002, the Chungs lost another pair of his pants, and he was compensated for $150. The Chungs wanted to prohibit him from coming to their shop, but he said he had to go Custom Cleaners because it was the only place walking distance to his house.
What happened at the end of all this drama? Absolutely nothing. The judge released a 23-page ruling that Pearson wasn’t entitled to any compensation at all. In fact, Pearson ended up having to take care of the Chungs’s court fees.
Unfortunately, the Chungs did have to pay their attorney fees, which ended up costing them two of their stores. Fortunately for the system, Pearson also lost his job, because a review board claimed he lacked judicial temperament.
The Consumer Protection Act
This case played an important impact on American law, because it caused us to question the Consumer Protection Act. This act is a group of laws that’s been around since the 1970s, before the age of personal injury law suits.
These laws were supposed to protect the rights of consumers to make sure that industries aren’t being unfair to the consumer. They’re meant to keep the consumers from getting scammed or hurt by goods and services – not vice versa.
So, that leads us to our next question “was Pearson truly hurt by the Chungs’ business?” While he might’ve suffered a minor 3-day inconvenience, that’s the risk that anybody takes anytime they go to any dry cleaner. He even got his pants back.
So, the moral of the story as with the majority of these frivolous lawsuits is that nothing good will come out of trying to cheat the system. However, some cases aren’t as outrageous as they seem. Especially, when physical personal injury is involved. If you think you have a personal injury suit, then call the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara, and we’ll find justice to your injury.
Following graduation from Loyola Law School in New Orleans in 1990, Price McNamara served as a Federal Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable John M Shaw, Chief Judge, United States District Court Western District of Louisiana.
Mr. McNamara founded the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara, and began putting his past experience to work for the injured and disabled clients he now represents against the insurance companies in personal injury and long term disability and other insurance disputes in both federal and state courts