TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Judge Sues for $65 Million Over Dry Cleaner's $10 Alteration to His Pants

Non-tax, but a sad/funny story about our legal profession in today's Washington Post:  Lawyer's Price For Missing Pants: $65 Million, by Marc Fisher:

When the neighborhood dry cleaner misplaced Roy Pearson's pants, he took action. ... Pearson is seeking to make Custom Cleaners pay ... $65,462,500. The original alteration work on the pants cost $10.50. By the way, Pearson is a lawyer. Okay, you probably figured that. But get this: He's a judge, too -- an administrative law judge for the District of Columbia. ...

Why should Ki, Jin and Soo Chung -- the family that owns Custom Cleaners on Bladensburg Road NE in the District's Fort Lincoln section -- pay Pearson $15,000 so he can rent a car every weekend for 10 years? The plaintiff, who says he has devoted more than 1,000 hours to represent himself in this battle, says that as a result of poor service at Custom, he must find another cleaner. And because Pearson does not own a car, he says he will have to rent one to get his clothes taken care of. This, he says, amounts to fraud, negligence and a scam. ...

A week after that routine mishap -- pants go astray all the time at cleaners -- Soo Chung came up with gray trousers that she said were Pearson's. But when the judge said that he had dropped off pants with red and blue pinstripes, there was no joy in Fort Lincoln. Pearson's first letter to the Chungs sought $1,150 so he could buy a new suit. 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. But Pearson pushes on. How does he get to $65 million? The District's consumer protection law provides for damages of $1,500 per violation per day. Pearson started multiplying: 12 violations over 1,200 days, times three defendants. A pant leg here, a pant leg there, and soon, you're talking $65 million. The case, set for trial in June, is on its second judge. ...

In a closet of a lawyer's office in downtown Washington, there is a pair of gray wool pants, waiting to be picked up by Roy Pearson. "We believe the pants are his," Manning says. "The tag matches his receipt."

(Hat Tip:  Howard Bashman.)

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Tracked on Apr 27, 2007 6:56:45 AM


Apparently, Pearson is not a stranger to twisting the court system.

Here's Pearson's divorce decree:

In page 10, the court upheld a judge's award of $12,000 in legal fees to be paid by Pearson. He threatened his ex-wife and her lawyer with disbarment, creating unnecessary litigation and costs.

Posted by: Steven C | Apr 26, 2007 3:30:51 PM

Pathetic. This man should pay 100% of the dry cleaners legal costs.

Posted by: sam | Apr 27, 2007 3:30:49 PM

All I can say is, "Unbelievable."

Posted by: PhantomEnergy | May 2, 2007 1:34:16 AM

In addition to being disbarred, having to pay legal fees and damages to the Chungs, Pearson should have to spend 2 weeks working in a Dry Cleaning plant, in Florida during August. (Just so he can have a bit of hell on earth.)

Posted by: Casi | May 2, 2007 7:36:41 PM

This judge is a joke to the profession. He should be fined and lose his license. What an abuse of power.

Posted by: Judge | May 3, 2007 8:05:31 AM

SHAMEFUL! A disgrace to the ENTIRE legal profession in general and the court systems nation-wide in particular. I work for a judge and the comments and conversations I've heard pertaining to the case are disdainful, mocking, disbelieving, and utterly disgusted - these have been from attorneys and court personnel, alike. SHAME!!

Posted by: SarahB | May 3, 2007 4:40:18 PM

Pearson is a disgrace not only to the legal profession, a representative of the judicial system, but also to all Americans. This man should be removed as judge, as lawyer, be fined for abusing his position, and make a public apology to the Chung's for putting them through this ordeal.

This judge actually got a renewel of 10 years as judge! I have sent a complaint phone call and letter and email to Pearson. I'll be sending a complaint letter to the bar association urging them to disbar this monster.

Posted by: Stephen | May 4, 2007 5:47:53 AM

What an abuse of power and a waste of the legal system. This case should have been thrown out in an instant as a frivolous lawsuit. The judge and the person/persons who allowed it to get this far should be disbarred. I hope some top notched lawyers will take the case pro bono and end up suing this judge. Most cleaners have a disclaimer - I hope this one did.

Posted by: Angie Giordano | May 5, 2007 8:42:37 AM