Judge Roy Pearson’s ongoing litigation against his drycleaners, the Chungs, for supposedly misplacing his pants has drawn lots of wry commentary and puns, including at this site. The idea of a JUDGE trying to win $54 million because of a pair of pants is so ridiculous, it invites levity.
But the costs of frivolous and legal vendettas are a serious matter to many, many business owners across the country. And really, it’s not a joke. From Chris Manning, the Chungs’ attorney:
The Chung family is sad to announce that they have closed Custom Cleaners dry cleaners due to the revenue losses and emotional toll resulting from the Pearson v. Chung lawsuit. The business has been sold. Having had to now close two of their three dry cleaning stores since the filing of the lawsuit, the Chung family is currently focused only on their Happy Cleaners store located at 1119 7th Street, NW in Washington, DC (approximately 7th & M). The Chungs hope that a successful Happy Cleaners store will help them someday rebuild their businesses in the aftermath of the lawsuit.
Since immigrating to the United States from South Korea in 1992, the Chung family had begun to realize the American dream by saving enough money to progressively open three small dry cleaning stores – Happy Cleaners in 1995, Custom Cleaners in 2000 and Parks Fabricare at 428 8th Street, SE in 2002. Unfortunately, Parks Fabricare closed in 2006 and now the Chungs have had to close Custom Cleaners as well.
“This is a truly tragic example of how devastating frivolous litigation can be to the American people and to small businesses. This family had poured its heart and soul into their dry cleaning stores only to have their dreams crushed by Roy Pearson’s lawsuit. Even though they were resoundingly victorious at trial, the damage was basically already done to the Chungs when Mr. Pearson filed and then bafflingly continued to pursue his lawsuit.”
Roy Pearson is continuing to pursue his appeal of the trial court verdict in favor of the Chungs. The appeal should be heard by the DC Court of Appeals sometime in 2008.
We wish the Chungs the best.
Earlier posts here.
UPDATE (2 p.m.): Interesting. The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog sparked an exchange in the comments in which several people blame the Chungs’ attorneys for charging too much. How bizarre, comments clearly coming from people ignorant of defending against legal harassment. “That’s stupid. We’re not going to hire an attorney to defend ourselves,” is not a winning strategy.
UPDATE (4:20 p.m.) Good release from the American Tort Reform Association, which points to possible ameliorating legislation. The penalties for filing frivolous lawsuits simply aren’t enough to discourage people from filing them, ATRA’s Tiger Joyce says: “Lawmakers in Congress should come together and pass bipartisan legislation that would create real risk for those who bring the frivolous lawsuits that slow the economy and erode the public’s faith in our civil justice system…Let judges impose immediate sanctions that would, at a minimum, include court costs and the defendant’s legal fees.”
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