New developments this week in the lawsuit by D.C. administrative law judge Roy Pearson against his local dry cleaners, alleging a diabolical pants-related scheme. As you may recall, Pearson sued under the D.C. consumer-protection statute after the cleaners allegedly lost a pair of pants, applying the statutory scheme to calculate a demand of nearly $65 million. The news today is that, in a pre-trial brief he filed yesterday, Pearson lowered his demand to a mere $54 million, and apparently focuses now on the allegedly misleading signs used by Custom Cleaners, as opposed to the allegations of damages stemming from the loss of Pearson’s pants.
I am by no means the first to use something like "Judge Drops Pants From Suit" as a headline, and I struggled with that for a while, but sometimes a headline joke is just inevitable. A variation on the theme was the best I could do.
Since I haven’t seen the brief yet, it’s not entirely clear whether the pants were dropped entirely, or the focus merely changed. If they were dropped entirely and the demand reduced to $54 million, then that seems to indicate that Judge Pearson valued the pants and associated damages at $13 million. (I apologize for earlier statements about "$65-million-dollar pants," which it seems were wildly exaggerated.)
But the suit itself is still going forward, apparently, since the report states that trial is set for June 11. The defendants’ attorney said he was "still baffled" as to why Pearson was continuing, "unless it’s simply to harass and annoy my clients." Pearson refused to comment "in light of pending litigation," which is an awfully popular no-comment excuse these days.
The suit is costing the defendants an awful lot of money, of course. (Pearson is representing himself, and seems to be getting what he’s paying for.) You can donate to the defense cause if you like at the Custom Cleaners link below. There’s also a link to a page on this case at the site of the defense firm, Manning and Sossamon, which includes some additional details such as these:
- Mr. Pearson alleges that on May 3, 2005 he left a pair of pants with the Chungs to be altered by May 5, 2005. The pants he submitted were grey in color and were unique in that they had a succession of three belt loops very close together on each side of the front waistband of the pants.
- The Chungs offered the altered grey pants to Mr. Pearson a few days after the May 5, 2007 deadline.
- Mr. Pearson refused to accept the pants the Chungs offered even though (1) the pants had the same unique belt loop configuration as the pants he originally submitted; (2) the pants’ measurements were identical to measurements he requested for the alteration; and, (3) the tag number on the pants matched his receipt.
This is the first I’ve heard of the unique belt-loop configuration issue, which may make it extremely difficult for Pearson to show the pants were not his, if the pants are still an issue in the case, as I expect they will be. Stay tuned for more dramatic developments in this titanic legal battle.