Pants Suit: Pay the Attorneys Costs, Judge

By July 7, 2007Briefly Legal

The latest on Judge Roy Pearson’s abusive lawsuit against his D.C. drycleaners for allegedly losing his pants: The Chungs say there should be consequences, that is, Pearson should pay the defendants’ fees. From The Washington Post:

Attorneys for the business’s owners, Soo and Jin Chung, wrote that Pearson, an administrative law judge, conducted himself in an outrageous manner since the dispute began in spring 2005.

“From his outrageous demands for compensation . . . to his amazingly voluminous discovery and motions practice to his unconscionable continual disregard for the Court’s Orders, Plaintiff’s motives have been clear — quite simply, to harass Defendants and to attempt to utterly destroy their lives,” attorney Christopher Manning wrote.

As a lawyer and an administrative law judge, Pearson should have known better, Manning said.

“Instead of honoring our judicial system, the plaintiff decided to use his intimate knowledge (and unreasonable interpretations) of District of Columbia laws to harass and exploit hard working South Korean immigrants who work in excess of 70 hours a week to live the American dream,” he wrote.

More details here, from Manning and Sossamon.

Justice is still far from being done in this case. And, as the Pacific Research Institute’s Hovannes Abramyan — co-author of “Jackpot Justice” — observes, contrary to the assertions by the head of the Alabama trial lawyers, the case most assuredly does not demonstrate that “the system works.”

Custom Cleaners was forced to pay more than $100,000 in attorney fees to defend itself against Pearson. In order to potentially receive compensation for these costs, the storeowners will have to go through extra bureaucratic processes, filing additional paperwork, and hoping for a judgment in their favor. Even the attorney representing the storeowners, however, stated that he’s doubtful Pearson will have to pay any of this money to his clients.

And, let’s not forget the foregone business revenue resulting from having to shift their energy and focus to Pearson’s lawsuit. Don’t expect the storeowners to be compensated by Pearson for this lost income.

Consider then all the business owners whose cases fail to draw national attention, those who face legal bills of “just” thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Perversely, by dint of Pearson’s lawsuit being so extreme, so bizarre, the Chungs stand to be compensated — eventually. A defense fund has been set up for them, and a fundraiser is scheduled for July 24th. Entirely appropriate, but who will offer the same kind of financial support to the many, many manufacturers afflicted by similar, if smaller litigation?

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Your association should report that the country’s largest organization of plaintiffs’ lawyers long ago denounced this “judge” and his ridiculous law suit. I have reported this:

    This case should have been decided in small claims court without attorneys.

    The judge deserves sanctions. For sanctions the question is whether the case was groundless and filed in bad faith or to harass. The bad faith and/or harass elements are certainly there and, while the case was not necessarily groundless, the damages sought were. Damages must be related to a pllaintiff’s harm. Punitive damages are intended to get defendants’ attention. (The coffee-in-the-lap damages – later reduced – were one day’s profit for McDonalds on their coffee only.)

    The judge should also lose his law license as did Mike Nifong and Bill Clinton. While this is the latest poster case against attorneys, attorneys do police their own.

    As an aside: What would we hear if a bunch of attorneys got together on a suicide bombing of an airport?

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