The Case of the $67 Million Pants

Posted on May 1, 2007

Judge Roy Pearson is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. He's suing his dry cleaners for $67 million for losing his favorite pair of pants. The pants were part of his favorite suit that he wanted to wear for his first day on the bench.

A Washington D.C. dry cleaners says its their business a long-time customer is taking to the cleaners. A $10 dry cleaning bill for a pair of lost trousers has ballooned into a $67 million civil lawsuit. Plaintiff Roy Pearson -- himself a local judge in Washington D.C -- says in court papers that he's been through the ringer over a lost pair of prized pants he wanted to wear on his first day on the bench. He says in court papers that he has endured "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort.''

He says he was unable to wear that favorite suit of his first day of work. He's suing for ten years of weekend car rentals so he can transport his dry cleaning to another store. The lawsuit is based in large part on Pearson's seemingly pained admission that he was taken in by the oldest and most insidious marketing tool in the dry cleaning industry arsenal. "Satisfaction Guaranteed." Pearson did not return numerous calls from ABC News for comment. It's the kind of lawsuit that makes liability reform advocates' temples throb.

"People in America are now scared of each other," legal expert Philip Howard told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit. "That's why teachers won't put an arm around a crying child, and doctors order unnecessary tests, and ministers won't meet with parishioners. It's a distrust of justice and it's changing our culture. The civil trial, set for June, has the scope of a John Grisham courtroom thriller and the societal importance of a traffic ticket. Pearson plans to call 63 witnesses. Defending themselves against the suit -- for two years running -- are Korean immigrants Jin and Soo Chung and their son, who own Custom Cleaners and two other dry cleaning shops in the Fort Lincoln section of Washington D.C.

The ABC News Law & Justice Unit has calculated that for $67 million dollars Pearson could buy 84,115 new pairs of pants at the $800 value he placed on the missing trousers in court documents. If you stacked those pants up they would be taller than eight Mount Everests. If you laid them side by side they would stretch for 48 miles.

This analysis is totally missing the point. All the new pants in the world can't make up for one special pair of trousers. Judge Pearson is being too generous with those dastardly dry cleaners. Clearly, they intentionally "lost" his pants as some kind of sick practical joke to ruin his first day at a new job. He should be suing them for $67 billion, not $67 million.

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