August 14, 2007 / 8:00 PM / 11 years ago

Judge presses $54 mln suit over pants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday asked an appeals court to hear his $54 million lawsuit against the dry-cleaning shop that misplaced his trousers, shrugging off legal setbacks and international ridicule.

A pair of pants at the center of a $54 million lawsuit shows the id-tag still attached, as dry-cleaning store owner Chung Jin-nam shows them off at a news conference outside his store in northeast Washington, June 25, 2007. A U.S. judge on Tuesday asked an appeals court to hear his $54 million lawsuit against the dry-cleaning shop that misplaced his trousers, shrugging off legal setbacks and international ridicule. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Judge Roy Pearson filed a notice of appeal with the District of Columbia Superior Court, indicating that he won’t abandon the crusade that has turned him into a symbol of America’s lawsuit-happy culture.

Pearson asked his neighborhood dry cleaners to pay him $1,150 when they misplaced a pair of trousers he brought in for a $10.50 alteration in May 2005. The owners of Custom Cleaners said they located the garment a few days later, but Pearson said the pair they offered him was not his.

Claiming that the shop’s “satisfaction guaranteed” sign misled customers who, like him, were dissatisfied with their experience, Pearson sought $1,500 for every day that Custom Cleaners displayed the sign over a four-year period, multiplied by the three members of the Chung family, who owned the business.

He also sought $15,000 to rent a car to take his clothes to another cleaner for 10 years.

The judge hearing the case ruled in June that Pearson did not interpret the sign in a reasonable fashion.

The Chungs decided on Monday not to ask the court to force Pearson to pay their legal fees, according to their lawyer, Christopher Manning. Sympathizers donated enough money to cover the estimated $85,000 bill.

“Mr. Pearson had a choice today — to make peace and acknowledge the Chungs’ amazing generosity ... or to continue with this ridiculous case,” Manning said in a statement. “Mr. Pearson, unfortunately, chose desperate irrationality over common sense.”

Pearson did not return a call seeking comment.

Pearson could lose his job as an administrative judge for the District of Columbia, where he hears disputes involving the decisions of city government agencies.

The city has warned Pearson it might not reappoint him when his job comes up for review next month, according to The Washington Post.

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