to the Custom Cleaners Defense Fund. http://www.CustomCleanersDefenseFund.com
7/28/09 Washington Examiner: “Pants suit judge loses shot at getting job
by Scott McCabe
A federal judge has thrown out a wrongful-termination lawsuit
by the former D.C. judge who was fired as news of his $54 million lawsuit over a
pair of pants gained international attention.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle dismissed Roy Pearson’s
claims that he was wrongly terminated for exposing corruption within the
department where he worked as a administrative judge, the District’s Office of
“This case is a classic example of a plaintiff pleading
himself out of court by alleging a host of facts that only serve to totally
undercut his claims,” Huvelle wrote in her 36-page opinion.
D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said he hoped the ruling
would mark the end of the litigation by the “pants judge,” but he was
expecting Pearson to appeal.
“This is a national and international embarrassment that a
guy with nothing to say can go through court proceedings and waste the times and
the resources of our judges and lawyers for so long,” Nickles said.
Pearson claimed that his firing violated his First Amendment
right to free speech and the D.C. whistleblower laws. He argued that the city
used the fact that he was being vilified in the media to cut him out of his
$100,000-a-year job. He sought his old job back, in which he often ruled on
disputes between city agencies, and more than $5 million in compensation. He
could not be reached for comment Monday.
Although the District’s judicial commission did not cite
Pearson’s lawsuit as the reason for firing Pearson, Huvelle suggested that
there was a “strong basis” to do so.
“[Pearson’s] interest in pursuing his lawsuit was
outweighed by his employer’s interest in maintaining the integrity of the OAH
and its judiciary,” Huvelle wrote in her ruling Thursday. Huvelle cited
criticism by the presiding judge in the pants suit case who noted Pearson’s
“misrepresentations” and expressed “significant concerns that the
plaintiff is acting in bad faith.”
Pearson’s 10-year appointment as an administrative law
judge was reversed last year as the news media became aware of his lawsuit. The
saga began when Pearson filed his multimillion-dollar civil suit against Jin
and Ki Chung, the owners of Custom Cleaners in
. Pearson claimed the Chungs lost a pair of his favorite pants and that the
“Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign was deceptive. He eventually lowered his
claim to $54 million.
In June 2007, Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled in favor of the
Chungs, who eventually closed their shop because of the costs in defending the
10/31/07 Express, a Publication of the Washington Post:
"Judge Who Sued Dry Cleaners Loses Job,"
By Greg Barber
IT'S FINALLY HAPPENED.
Roy Pearson, the administrative law judge who sued a dry cleaners for
$54 million over a lost pair of pants, lost his job Tuesday and was told to clear out his office, sources tell The Post.
However, sources say that the pants lawsuit, which spawned headlines around the world, didn't have much to do with the decision not to reappoint Pearson, Keith L. Alexander reports:
Pearson, 57, who had served as a judge for two years, was up for a 10-year term at the Office of Administrative Hearings, but a judicial committee last week voted against reappointing him.
[T]he committee said it had reviewed Pearson's judicial decisions and
audiotapes of proceedings over which he had presided, and found he did not demonstrate "appropriate judgment and judicial temperament," according a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.
Pearson was informed of the decision in a seven-page letter that was hand-delivered to him at about 3:30 p.m., Alexander reports. The letter told Pearson to vacate his office by 5 p.m.
Pearson's lawsuit against Custom Cleaners of Northwest D.C. eventually ended with a U.S. District Judge finding for the defendants. Pearson later indicated that he would appeal.
Associated Press: "Dry Cleaner in Pants Suit Closes,"
by Lubna Takruri
Washington (AP) The owners of a dry cleaner who were sued for $54 million over a missing pair of pants have closed and sold the shop involved in the dispute, their attorney said Wednesday.
The South Korean immigrants are citing a loss of revenue and the emotional strain of defending the lawsuit. They will focus their energy on another dry-cleaning shop they still own, said their attorney, Chris Manning.
"This is a truly tragic example of how devastating frivolous litigation can be to the American people and to small businesses," Manning said in a statement.
Soo Chung and her husband, Jin Nam Chung, faced more than two years of litigation after a former customer at Custom Cleaners alleged they had lost a pair of his pants, then sued for $67 million under the District of Columbia's strict consumer protection act.
Plaintiff Roy L. Pearson, a local administrative law judge, later lowered his demand to $54 million. He said the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service" signs that once hung in the shop were misleading and fraudulent.
The case went to trial in June and a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the Chungs, awarding Pearson nothing. Pearson is pursuing an appeal.
The Chungs incurred more than $100,000 in legal expenses, which were eventually paid with help from fundraisers and donations.
Even after the trial ended favorably, Manning said, the Chungs lost customers and revenue. They have now closed two of their three businesses since the lawsuit began, he said.
Pearson did not respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press seeking comment.
CNN: Court finds missing pants not worth $54M; Administrative law judge
sought damages for fraudulent advertising after a dry cleaner allegedly gave him
the wrong pair of pants,
Washington (CNN) -- A judge in the
District of Columbia
has dismissed a case against a dry cleaner that claimed $54 million in damages
for a pair of missing pants.
The case was brought by Roy L. Pearson, himself a judge. He
originally sought $67 million from the Chung family, owners of Custom Cleaners.
He calculated the amount by estimating years of law violations, adding almost $2
million in common law claims for fraud.
The Chungs denied Pearson's allegations and insisted that the
pants they tried to give him were those he had brought in.
The saga began in May 2005, when Pearson took several pairs
of pants to Custom Cleaners for alteration as he prepared to start his new job
as an administrative law judge. He alleged that he'd brought in a pair of
trousers from a blue and maroon suit, but when he came to collect them the
Chungs tried to give him a pair of charcoal gray pants that he said were not
During a two-day trial earlier this month, Pearson said that
when he took the pants to Custom Cleaners, his financial situation was ruinous -
he had just been ordered to pay $12,000 in attorney's fees to his ex-wife and
his credit cards were at their limit.
Pearson, representing himself during the trial, claimed
millions of dollars in attorney fees and millions more in punitive damages for
what he called fraudulent advertising under the law.
He also claimed that a sign in the store's window that
promised "Satisfaction Guaranteed" was an unconditional warranty that
required the defendants to honor any claim by any customer without limitation.
The Chungs' attorney argued that no reasonable person would
interpret the signs to mean an unconditional promise of satisfaction. District
of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff agreed.
In a 23-page conclusion, Bartnoff ruled that Custom Cleaners
had not violated the city's Consumer Protection Act. She wrote: "A
reasonable consumer would not interpret 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a
merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands or accede to
demands that the merchant has reasonable grounds to dispute."
Pearson had "not met his burden of proving that the
pants the defendants attempted to return to him were not the pants he brought in
for alteration" she said.
Bartnoff awarded court costs to the defendants. The Chungs -
who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on the case - are attempting to have
their attorney's fees paid by Pearson.
Their attorney, Chris Manning, said his clients "are
relieved that we are past this stage. Judge Bartnoff has spoken loudly in
suggesting that, while consumers should be protected, abusive lawsuits like this
will not be tolerated. Judge Bartnoff has chosen common sense and reasonableness
over irrationality and unbridled venom."
He added: "Hopefully Mr. Pearson doesn't take this any
further on appeal, but we expect him to."
During the two-day trial, Soo Chung said that
"economically, emotionally and healthwise as well, it has been extremely
hard for us." She started the business with her husband after they moved to
Associated Press (Washington
Post): Customer Sues for $65 Million Over Pants,
By Lubna Takruri
-- A missing pair of pants has led to one big
suit. A customer got so steamed when a dry cleaner lost his trousers that he
sued for $65 million. Two years later, he is still pressing his suit.
The case has demoralized the South Korean immigrant owners of
the mom-and-pop business and brought demands that the customer - an
administrative law judge in
- be disbarred and removed from office for pursuing a frivolous and abusive
Jin Nam Chung, Ki Chung and their son, Soo Chung, are
considering moving back to
, seven years after they opened their dry-cleaning business in the nation's
capital, said their lawyer, Chris Manning.
"They're out a lot of money, but more importantly,
incredibly disenchanted with the system," Manning said. "This has
destroyed their lives."
The customer, Roy L. Pearson Jr., who has been representing
himself, declined to comment.
According to court documents, the problem began in May 2005
when Pearson became a judge and brought several suits for alterations to Custom
. A pair of pants from one suit was missing when he requested it two days later.
Pearson asked the cleaners for the full price of the suit:
more than $1,000.
But a week later, the Chungs said the pants had been found
and refused to pay. Pearson said those were not his pants, and decided to take
the Chungs to the cleaners and sue.
Manning said the cleaners have made three settlement offers
to Pearson: $3,000, then $4,600, then $12,000.
But Pearson was not satisfied and expanded his calculations
beyond one pair of pants. Because Pearson no longer wanted to use his
neighborhood dry cleaner, he asked in his lawsuit for $15,000 _ the cost of
renting a car every weekend for 10 years to go to another business.
Manning said Pearson somehow thinks he has the right to a dry
cleaner within four blocks of his apartment.
The bulk of the $65 million demand comes from Pearson's
strict interpretation of
consumer protection law, which imposes fines of $1,500 per violation, per day.
Pearson counted 12 violations over 1,200 days, then multiplied that by three
Much of Pearson's case rests on two signs Custom Cleaners
once had on its walls: "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day
Service." He claims the signs amount to fraud.
The case is set for trial June 11.
Sherman Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform
Association, an organization that fights what it considers abusive lawsuits
against small businesses, has asked that Pearson be denied a renewal this week
of his 10-year appointment. The association has also offered to buy Pearson the
suit of his choice.
Chief Administrative Judge Tyrone Butler had no comment on
Pearson's reappointment prospects.
Melvin Welles, former chief administrative law judge with the
National Labor Relations Board, wrote to The Washington Post to say that if he
were the judge in the case, he would throw out the lawsuit and order Pearson to
pay the Chungs for their legal expenses and their mental suffering. He also
called for Pearson's ouster and disbarment.
"The manifest absurdity of it is too obvious to require
explanation," Welles wrote.
To the Chungs and their attorney, one of the most frustrating
aspects of the case is their claim that Pearson's gray pants were found almost
right away, and have been hanging in Manning's office for more than a year.
Pearson claims in court documents that his pants had blue and red pinstripes.
But Manning said: "They match his inseam measurements.
The ticket on the pants matches his receipt."
Release: Commission Urged To Reconsider Tenure of Law Judge Who's Suing Dry
Cleaner for $65 Million Reappointment to New 10-Year Term, at Taxpayers
Expense, Could Start Tomorrow
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Darren McKinney, email@example.com, 202-682-0084
Washington, DC, May 01,
2007 -- The American Tort Reform Association yesterday delivered a letter to
four District of Columbia officials, urging them to consider carefully the
"judicial temperament" of an administrative law judge who is seeking
reappointment while suing a local dry cleaner - over a lost pair of pants
- for more than $65 million.
His pants were found long ago and are readily available to
him, explained ATRA president Sherman Joyce. What may no longer be
available to him, unless he withdraws his lawsuit, is a reputation as a jurist
with appropriate judicial temperament.
As recently reported by The Washington Post, FOX News Channel
and other local and national media outlets, D.C. administrative law judge Roy
Pearson Jr. has sued Custom Cleaners in Northeast D.C. under the Districts
Consumer Protection and Procedures Act, alleging among other things that window
signs advertising Satisfaction Guaranteed and Same Day Service
fraudulently deceived customers.
The Districts consumer protection act and many others
in states across the country are well-intentioned but loosely worded, Joyce
continued. They were crafted largely in the late-1960s and into the 1970s,
before personal injury litigation was industrialized by the trial bar in the
1980s, and Judge Pearsons lawsuit appears to be a somewhat typical, if wholly
outrageous example of the exploitation such laws are increasingly subject to
ATRA pledges to raise sufficient funds to buy Judge
Pearson a high-quality suit of his choosing if hell do the right thing and
let this hardworking family business get back to serving its community and
paying taxes to the District government, added Joyce. But since that may
not do the trick, weve reached out to the commission considering his
reappointment to the well-paid, taxpayer-supported position hes held since
May 2, 2005.
He noted that D.C. administrative law judges first serve a
two-year term upon initial appointment and can then apply for reappointment to a
10-year term. Judge Pearsons initial term expires today, and a source at the
Commission of Selections and Appointments of Administrative Law Judges of the
Office of Administrative Hearings confirmed to ATRA that he has applied for
reappointment. The OAH telephone number is (202) 478-1421.
Joyces letter to Chief Administrative Law Judge Tyrone
Butler and Commissioners Robert Rigsby, Henry Levine and Peter Wilner also was
copied to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, all members of the D.C. Council and D.C.
Superior Court Judge Rufus King, all of whom have a role in deciding who will
serve on the commission in the future. Judge Pearson also was copied. Full text
of the ATRA letter follows below:
N. Capitol Street,
Commissioner Henry Levine
Commissioner Peter Wilner
Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges
Fourth Street NW
Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearsons Pending Reappointment to a 10-Year Term
Dear Judge Butler and Commissioners Rigsby, Levine and Wilner:
On behalf of the American Tort Reform Association, which works to combat lawsuit
abuse, I urge you to carefully reconsider the reappointment of Administrative
Law Judge Roy Pearson Jr. to a 10-year term scheduled to commence in three days
on May 2.
you are almost surely aware by now, thanks to extensive local and national media
coverage, Judge Pearson has chosen to exploit the Districts well-intentioned
but loosely-worded Consumer Protection and Procedures Act in suing a
family-owned D.C. dry cleaner for more than $65 million over a lost pair of
the pants have long since been found and made available to him, Judge Pearson
has stubbornly continued to waste precious Superior Court resources in a clearly
misguided effort to extort a hardworking family that provides a service to its
community and tax revenue to the District government.
a letter to the editor in todays Washington Post, former National Labors
Relations Board chief administrative law judge Melvin Welles urged any bar to
which Mr. Pearson belongs to immediately disbar him and the District to remove
him from his position as an administrative law judge.
those of us who carefully study the litigation industrys growing abuse of
consumer protection laws around the country (see ATRA general counsel Victor
Schwartzs recent article from Executive Counsel magazine, Consumer
Protection Acts Are a Springboard for Lawsuit Abuse, enclosed) and to
everyday D.C. taxpayers who collectively provide Judge Pearson with a
considerable salary, his persistence in this lawsuit raises serious doubts about
his capacity to serve the city as a fair, impartial, effective, and
efficient judge, as required by the Office of Administrative Hearings
Judge Pearson goes ahead with his lawsuit, any party who comes before him in
future administrative hearings could understandably lack confidence in his
judgment and judicial temperament. Furthermore, this case will become fodder for
late night comics, various members of Congress and other assorted critics of
D.C. government if this case, scheduled for trial June 11, remains in the
temperament is a critical characteristic of an outstanding jurist. Any
individual who chooses to pursue a case such as Judge Pearsons, at a minimum,
calls into question his or hers. As you consider his reappointment, we strongly
urge you to examine closely his judicial temperament and decide whether it is
sufficient to serve the people of the
District of Columbia
properly as an administrative law judge.
American Tort Reform Association
Consumer Protection Acts Are a Springboard for Lawsuit Abuse, Executive
Counsel, March/April 2007, Vol. 4 No. 2
Mayor Adrian Fenty, Council Chair Vincent Gray, Superior Court Chief Judge Rufus
King, all D.C. Council Members and Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson
American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) is the only national organization
dedicated exclusively to tort and liability reform through public education and
the enactment of legislation. ATRA's membership includes non profits, small and
large companies, as well as state and national trade, business, and professional
5/16/07 Legal Times: Ethics Complaint Filed Against Judge Over His $65M Suit
Against Dry Cleaners,
by Brendan Smith
, administrative law judge Roy Pearson Jr. isn't
making many new friends with his $65 million lawsuit against a local dry cleaner
for losing a pair of his pants.
May 8, 2007
Mr. James Sandman
District of Columbia Bar Association
1250 H St. NW
, Sixth Floor
Dear Mr. Sandman:
As a member of the District of Columbia Bar,
I believe that the widely reported actions of Mr. Roy Pearson, Jr. in pursuing a
$65 million dollar lawsuit against a local dry cleaning business appear to
constitute a serious abuse of the civil justice system and warrant a
disciplinary inquiry from the Bar.
Media reports indicate that Mr. Pearson, an
administrative law judge and member of the District of Columbia Bar has
relentlessly pursued his lawsuit against Custom Cleaners, a family-owned dry
cleaner, for temporarily misplacing a pair of his suit pants. Despite an
apparently generous settlement offer that includes the return of the
once-missing suit pants, news reports indicate that Mr. Pearson has maintained
his action over a two-year period, filed thousands of pages in documents and
made damage claims that appear to be farfetched and unjustified. Moreover, it
appears that Mr. Pearson's actions in this matter are consistent with his
behavior in prior legal disputes, where he has followed courses of action both
that appear both vexatious and disproportionate to any legitimate claim.
The American civil justice system ought to be
a point of pride, both to the public and the profession. It enables those who,
in good faith, believe that they have been wronged to pursue justice and have an
impartial tribunal resolve responsibility. Only in such a courtroom can everyone
- regardless of wealth, connections or political clout - stand on a level
playing field of justice.
Our court system has no place for those who
abuse the instruments of justice for personal gain or the intimidation of
others, rather than just compensation. That Mr. Pearson occupies a position of
public trust as an administrative law judge, in addition to his membership in
the Bar, further intensifies the dishonor that his apparent actions have cast on
both the system and the profession. As attorneys, we have a special obligation
to preserve the integrity of our civil justice system.
Our commitment must be to strengthening the
civil justice system so that deserving individuals can get justice, wrongdoers
are held accountable, and efforts to weaken basic legal protections are
For actions inconsistent with the oath and
office of our learned profession, I urge that the District of Columbia Bar
investigate this matter and take appropriate disciplinary action.
Chief Executive Officer, American Association