June 12, 2007 / 4:53 PM / 12 years ago

DC judge presses $54 million suit for lost pants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A judge in the U.S. capital pressed a $54 million lawsuit on Tuesday against a dry cleaning shop which he said violated consumer-protection laws when it lost his pants.

Roy L. Pearson, an administrative judge for the District of Columbia, told a local court that Custom Cleaners should pay the sum because a “satisfaction guaranteed” sign deceived consumers who, like him, were dissatisfied with their experience.

“You will search the records of the District of Columbia courts in vain for a case of more egregious or willful misconduct,” Pearson told D.C. Judge Judith Bartnoff.

The lawyer for the Korean immigrants who run the dry cleaner said Pearson was looking for a way to resolve his financial difficulties after a divorce.

“It’s simply a frivolous lawsuit brought by an unhappy customer with a bone to pick,” attorney Chris Manning said.

Pearson filed suit after the cleaners lost his pants in 2005. Jin Chung, Soo Chung and Ki Chung said they located the pants a few days later, but Pearson said they were not his.

Pearson counted 12 separate violations of a consumer-protection law over 1,200 days, multiplied by the three defendants. At $1,500 per day, that is $65 million.

He also seeks $15,000 to rent a car to take his clothes to another cleaner for the next 10 years, among other charges.

He has rejected several settlement offers.

Pearson has since reduced his claim to $54 million.

The Chungs, who immigrated from South Korea in 1992, have grown disillusioned with the United States and might return to their native country, Manning said.

The case, expected to conclude on Wednesday, has attracted attention as an example of over-litigiousness in the United States.

The Washington Post questioned whether Pearson should remain in his job hearing cases involving the decisions of D.C. government agencies.

“The case raises serious questions about his judgment and temperament,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial.

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