Like a bad cold you just can’t shake off, the infamous lost pants lawsuit is back. Yesterday, ABC News 7 here in Washington D.C. reported that former D.C. Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson has been granted a chance to revive his $54 million lawsuit against a local drycleaner for misplacing his pair of slacks.
The suit against Custom Cleaners, which generated international media attention, seemed finally put to rest last summer with a ruling against Pearson, clearing the reputations of Jin and Soo Chung, the owners of the small dry cleaning business. However, after the expensive two-year battle, the Chungs were forced to close two of their three shops as a result of this lawsuit. Yet, now we find that a three-judge appellate court panel has agreed to hear Pearson’s appeal, dragging the Chungs back into the courtroom.
Not only did this frivolous lawsuit prove to be an embarrassment to Pearson – who lost his judgeship after he lost his case – this appeal is proving to be an embarrassment to the integrity of our legal system.
America’s out-of-control lawsuit system encourages plaintiffs like Pearson to seek jackpot justice at the expense of businesses of all types and sizes. Nevertheless, those who profit most from lawsuits – plaintiffs’ lawyers – see nothing wrong with a system that generates billions of dollars of income for their industry each year.
In fact, in June of last year, after the Chungs’ initial bittersweet victory that nearly cost them their very livelihood, the national trial lawyer lobby publicly praised the ruling, saying it “clearly shows that the system works to deny outrageous and ridiculous claims.”
The system works!? Tell that to the Chungs, who have spent more than $100,000 on legal fees, have had to close two stores and, because of Pearson’s granted appeal, will once again have this absurd lawsuit hanging over their heads.
The Chungs’ story is featured on IamLawsuitAbuse.org, a Web site sponsored by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform that gives a voice to those hurt by abusive lawsuits. Unfortunately, the Chungs’ ongoing legal nightmare is just another sad illustration of the impact this type of litigation is having on businesses across the nation.
Lisa A. Rickard serves as president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), where she provides strategic leadership to ILR's comprehensive program aimed at changing the legal culture that has resulted in our nation's litigation explosion.