Roy Pearson Loses Appeal; Hung Himself Out to Dry

By December 18, 2008Briefly Legal

From WTOP radio, here in Washington, D.C., reporting what by all rights should be the last chapter of the Roy Pearson abusive lawsuit against his drycleaners for supposedly misplacing a pair of pants.

WASHINGTON – Roy L. Peason, the former administrative law judge who sued his dry cleaner for $54 million over a misplaced pair of pants, lost his final appeal in the District’s highest court.

“Appellant failed to establish either that the Chungs’ ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ and ‘Same Day Service’ signs constituted false or misleading statements, or that they lost his pants.

“Thus, the judgment for the Chungs on the fraud and CPPA claims was proper. Further, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s motions for a jury trial,” says the D.C.’s Court of Appeals ruling.

The saga involving the missing pants started when Pearson filed a civil suit against Jin Nam and Ki Chung, the owners of Custom Cleaners in Northeast.

If you read the opinion, you’ll see many references to the CPPA, the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act. An obsessive plaintiff can make anyone’s life miserable, but Pearson’s litigiousness was aided by the badly written law; as the American Tort Reform Association notes, “it allows claims regardless of whether a consumer was injured or suffered a loss.” ATRA has proposed reasonable reforms:

  • Provide that consumers can recover their actual losses as well as reasonable attorneys fees, not an arbitrary and excessive $1,500 per violation regardless of their injury, except in cases when it can be shown that a defendant’s actions were knowingly and willfully fraudulent or deceptive, and
  • Permit only those consumers who experienced a loss because they actually relied on a fraudulent or deceptive advertisement or representation to bring a lawsuit, not those who vaguely claim harm to others or the general public.

The appellate ruling is a model of clear and straightforward reasoning and writing (granted, it’s not a terribly complicated case legally). The Chungs again win the day — although in the end they’re out $100,000 or so in legal costs, were forced closed several of their outlets, and generally suffered the consequences of America’s out-of-control civil justice sysem.

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