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Perceptions OF america's JUSTICE SYSTEM

He's Baaa-ck Part II  --  News & Views 2008

About Roy L. Pearson, Jr.

Roy L. Pearson, Jr. News & Views 2007
54 Million Dollar Pants on Trial

Frivolous Lawsuit Remedies
By: Victims-of-Law

Judge Judith Bartnoff's Verdict

Decision in Pearson v. Chung 05 CA 4302 [84KB] -- 2007

 Judgment in Pearson v. Chung 05 CA 4302 [18KB] -- 2007

He's Baaa-ack Part II -- News & Views 2008

January 2010

D.C. Circuit to Former Judge in Pants Lawsuit: Follow the Rules

Mike Scarcella, The National Law Journal

A Victims-of-Law Advertiser

01-05-10 -- Former administrative law Judge Roy Pearson hit a snag in a federal appeals court in Washington on Thursday. Call it an admonishment from the bench or maybe a simple "do over." . . . A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Thursday dismissed Pearson's opening brief in his dispute with the city and a group of judges, saying that Pearson's court papers failed to comply with the federal rules of appellate procedure regarding the format of briefs. . . . Pearson, who unsuccessfully sued a dry cleaner for millions of dollars over a pair of lost pants, claims in the federal suit that the city and a group of D.C. Superior Court judges retaliated against him when he was denied reappointment to his post as an administrative law judge.

Former Judge of Pants Lawsuit Fame Takes Swipe at Federal Bench

Mike Scarcella, The National Law Journal

01-29-10 -- Roy Pearson Jr., the former D.C. administrative law judge who famously sued over a lost pair of pants, is now picking a fight with U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle. . . . Huvelle was the presiding judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia who, last year, tossed Pearson's suit for damages that targeted -- among others -- city officials and judges.******* When Pearson was then not re-appointed to a full 10-year term as an administrative law judge, he turned around and sued in federal court on a claim that he was retaliated against for suing the dry cleaners. **** Huvelle dismissed it last July. Now, with the case on appeal, Pearson is taking a personal swipe at Huvelle in court papers in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where Pearson is pro se. . . . Pearson wants the appeals court to take notice of a photograph showing Huvelle standing with several Superior Court judges, including Anita Josey-Herring, who is a defendant in Pearson's suit. Pearson included the photo -- taken in May at the annual Law Day Dinner Program hosted by the Washington Bar Association -- in his opening brief, filed Jan. 21 in the appeals court. . . . Here's how Pearson puts it: "Judge Huvelle's enthusiastic participation in this smiling, arm-in-arm 'sisterhood' photo with defendant Josey-Herring" took place before Huvelle ruled on pending motions in the suit. Pearson said in court papers that Huvelle should have recused from hearing the suit.

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August 2009


Pricey Pants Judge Won't Quit

Pearson appeals wrongful termination decision

NBC Washington

8-28-09 -- ********Last month, a U.S. District judge tossed Pearson's wrongful termination lawsuit. Now, Pearson is taking his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Legal Times reported. . . . The appeals court may or may not decide to hear an oral argument in the case. . . . Thanks, Roy. We missed you!

Ex-Judge Who Lost $54 Million 'Pants Case' Takes Wrongful Termination Suit to D.C. Circuit

Mike Scarcella, The National Law Journal

8-28-09 -- D.C. Superior Court was a bust. So was the D.C. Court of Appeals. A related suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia didn't work out, either. Maybe a federal appeals court will see things differently. . . . Roy Pearson Jr., the former administrative law judge in Washington, D.C., who gained notoriety for his unsuccessful $54 million suit against a dry cleaners that misplaced a pair of pants, has turned to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. . . . Pearson, who filed a pro se notice of appearance Thursday, wants the federal appeals court in Washington to overturn the dismissal of a wrongful termination suit he filed in May 2008 against the city, among other defendants, seeking reinstatement to his post as an administrative law judge. Pearson has been a member of the D.C. Bar since 1978. He did not immediately return a call seeking comment.


December 2008

Former Judge Loses $67 Million Pants Case

Jeff Jeffrey, Legal Times

12-18-08 -- The infamous $67 million pants case has finally ended, and according to a ruling handed down Thursday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the pants are hardly worth that sum. . . . The opinion marks the conclusion of a lawsuit filed more than three years ago that became a favorite punchline for many who followed it. Former administrative Judge Roy Pearson sued the owners of now-defunct Custom Cleaners in 2005 for $54 million, accusing Soo and Jin Chung and their son, Ki Chung of losing a pair of pants he dropped off for dry cleaning. By allegedly losing the pants, Pearson argued, the store failed to live up to its "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign and thus violated D.C. consumer protection law. . . . By Pearson's interpretation of the sign, the Chungs each owe him $18,000 for each day the pants were missing over a nearly four-year period. In that time, Pearson's demand went up to $67 million. . . . The three-judge panel, consisting of Judges Noel Kramer and Phyllis Thompson and retired Judge Michael Farrell, ruled against Pearson on every argument he made at oral argument in October. . . . In the opinion, Kramer says Pearson's argument that a "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign is an unconditional and unlimited warrant of satisfaction has no basis and that when trial Judge Judith Bartnoff rejected that claim, it showed "basic common sense."

October 2008

The Return of Judge Fancy Pants

Posted by Jane Akre

10-23-08 -- Former Judge Roy Pearson is in the news again. . . . Remember Judge Fancy Pants who was heralded as a shining example of “frivolous lawsuits," a frequent cry of the tort reform movement?  Everyone agreed that suing a dry cleaner for $54 million was absurd and wondered why the case was not thrown out on its face. . . . But it was not and on Wednesday before a three-judge D.C. Court of Appeals panel, the former administrative law judge tried to revive the once-hot pants issue. . . . “This is not a case about a pair of suit pants,” Pearson said representing himself.  “Rather it is about whether the owners of a neighborhood business misled consumers with a sign that claimed ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed.’” . . . Pearson called the sign an “unconditional guarantee,” that is unless the merchant indicates otherwise. . . . The panel asked for help translating what that means, asking for another example. . . . “You haven’t pointed me to a case which reaches a conclusion you would have us reach,” said Judge Phyllis Thompson.

Judge's $54 Million Lost-Pants Claim May Be Poor Fit for Appeals Court

Court peppers plaintiff with questions about claim based on dry cleaner's 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' sign

Brian Westley, The Associated Press

10-23-08 -- A former administrative law judge who unsuccessfully sued a dry cleaner for $54 million over a pair of lost pants tried to convince an appeals panel Wednesday that he deserves the money because he is a fraud victim. . . . "This is not a case about a pair of suit pants," Roy L. Pearson argued before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Rather, it is about whether the owners of a neighborhood business misled consumers with a sign that claimed "Satisfaction Guaranteed," he said. . . . "There is an unconditional guarantee," he argued, unless the merchant indicates otherwise. . . . Pearson said the sign was deceptive and that the burden was on owners Jin Nam Chung and Soo Chung to explain whether the promise came with restrictions. . . . Pearson sued Custom Cleaners in northeast Washington in 2005 after claiming the Chungs lost a pair of trousers from a $1,100 blue and burgundy suit, then tried to give him a pair of charcoal gray pants that he said were not his. A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled against Pearson more than a year ago, awarding him nothing. . . . Christopher Manning, an attorney for the Chungs, said the business owners believe they did not lose the pants.

September 2008

$54 Million Pants Case Set for Appeal

Jeff Jeffrey, Legal Times

9-15-08 -- The $54 million lawsuit against a family-owned dry cleaners that allegedly lost a pair of pants is going up on appeal next month. . . . Former administrative judge Roy Pearson lost his suit in trial court last year, but immediately filed for an appeal to have the D.C. Court of Appeals determine whether Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff erred in her ruling against him. . . . Bartnoff ruled that the dry cleaners' owners did not violate the consumer protection law by failing to live up to Pearson's interpretation of the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign displayed in the store. . . . The appeal is set for Oct. 22. . . . The case drew national attention and was widely lampooned as an example of legal excess because of Pearson's method for calculating his losses. . . . Citing the city's consumer protection law, Pearson argued that the owners, Soo and Jin Chung and their son, Ki Chung, each owe $18,000 for each day the pants were missing over a nearly four-year period.

The $54 Million Pants Lawsuit That Never Goes Away

by Lisa A. Rickard

9-11-08 -- 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. 

May 2008

Pants Suit' Judge Suing for Job, $1M in Damages

The Associated Press

5-6-08 -- A former judge who lost a $54 million law suit against a dry cleaners over a missing pair of pants is suing to get his job back and at least $1 million in damages. . . . In the suit filed in federal court, Roy Pearson he was wrongfully dismissed for exposing corruption within the Office of Administrative Hearings, the department where he worked. In court documents, Pearson said he was protected as a whistle-blower and that the city used the fact that he was being "vilified in the media" to cut him out of his job. . . . In a response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Associated Press, the city's general counsel wrote that Pearson's term as an administrative law judge expired in May 2007, and the D.C. Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges voted not to reappoint him.

About Roy L. Pearson, Jr. . . .

Roy L. Pearson, Jr.

He is an African American lawyer and administrative law judge in Washington, D.C. His undergraduate degree was earned at Lake Forest College and his J.D. at Northwestern University School of Law. Upon graduation, he first taught at, then became assistant director of, the clinical program at the Georgetown University Law Center. Pearson passed the bar for the District of Columbia in 1978 and bar for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1985.

From 1978 to 2002, Pearson was the attorney for the Washington Neighborhood Legal Services Program, serving as the Assistant Director for Legal Operations from 1989 onwards.

From 2003 to 2005, he was a contract hearing examiner for the Office of Police Complaints, and on May 2, 2005, Pearson was appointed as an administrative law judge for Washington D.C.

Pearson has been on the board, or served as counsel for numerous Washington D.C. community organizations, including the Columbia Heights Youth Club, Fort Lincoln Civic Association, Black Seeds, Inc. Washington Council of Lawyers and the National Council of Black Lawyers.

Pearson has became famous (infamous) for suing a small dry cleaning service for $65,462,500, alleging it lost a pair of his pants. Previously the cleaners had offered $12,000 to settle the complaint.

At one point, D.C. Superior Court Judge Neal Kravitz stated that "the court has significant concerns that the plaintiff is acting in bad faith." However, he didn't do anything to give relief to the defendants.

Pearson has a litigation history; commenter Monica points to
this reported opinion stemming from his divorce.

Appellate Court opined when upholding legal fees awarded to Pearson’s ex-wife: The trial court made specific findings concerning the award of attorney's fees, including that the litigation was disproportionately long despite the relative simplicity of the case and that husband "in good part is responsible for excessive driving up of everything that went on here including threatening both the wife and her lawyer with disbarment as a member of both the D.C. bar and Virginia bar," which created "unnecessary litigation."  Accordingly, we cannot say the trial court abused its discretion in awarding attorney's fees to wife.”

The 67 Million Dollar Pair of Pants Video on YouTube

Click to read the Joint Pretrial Statement in the $65,000,000 dry cleaners lawsuit.

Pearson, Roy L Jr
3012 Pineview Ct NE
Washington, DC 20018-1617

(202) 269-1191


Roy L. Pearson, Jr. News & Views 2007

Click headline for full article


November 2007

D.C. Officials Confirm Removal of Judge Who Brought $54 Million Pants Lawsuit

The Associated Press 

11-14-07 -- A judge who lost a $54 million lawsuit against his dry cleaner over a pair of missing pants has lost his job, District of Columbia officials confirmed. . . . Roy Pearson's term as an administrative law judge expired May 2 and the D.C. Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges has voted not to reappoint him, Lisa Coleman, the city's general counsel, wrote Nov. 8 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Associated Press. . . . Pearson was one of about 30 judges who worked in the Office of Administrative Hearings, which handles disputes involving city agencies. He had held his position for two years. . . . The Washington Post and The (Washington) Examiner, citing sources familiar with the case, reported the commission's decision last month. Coleman refused to release a copy of a letter to Pearson informing him of the decision, saying it is considered a personnel matter. . . . Pearson's lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court claimed that Custom Cleaners, owned by South Korean immigrants, did not live up to Pearson's expectations of "Satisfaction Guaranteed," as advertised in store windows.

October 2007

Judge Who Lost Pant Suit Loses Job

By Keith L. Alexander, Washington Post Staff Writer 

Roy L. Pearson Jr., the administrative law judge who lost his $54 million lawsuit against a Northeast Washington dry cleaner, lost his job yesterday and was ordered to vacate his office, sources said. . . . Pearson, 57, who had served as a judge for two years, was up for a 10-year term at the Office of Administrative Hearings, but a judicial committee last week voted against reappointing him. . . . The panel had a seven-page letter hand-delivered to Pearson about 3:30 p.m., directing him to leave his office by 5 p.m. Pearson's term ended in May, at the height of his battle with the dry cleaners. Since then, he has remained on the payroll, making $100,000 a year as an attorney adviser. . . . A source familiar with the committee's meetings said Pearson's lawsuit played little role in the decision not to reappoint him. . . . Instead, the committee said it had reviewed Pearson's judicial decisions and audiotapes of proceedings over which he had presided and found he did not demonstrate "appropriate judgment and judicial temperament," according a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case. . . . Sources said Pearson also was criticized for displaying a "combative" nature with supervisors and colleagues and for failing to comply with policies in drafting opinions. . . . Administrative law judges hear cases involving city agencies and commissions.

Judge Set to Lose Job, Sources Say

Panel Reportedly Votes Against Reappointment

By Keith L. Alexander, Washington Post Staff Writer

10-24-07 -- Roy L. Pearson Jr., whose $54 million lawsuit against a Northeast Washington dry-cleaning shop was rejected in court, is about to lose his job as an administrative law judge, sources said last night. . . . A city commission voted yesterday against reappointing Pearson to the bench of the Office of Administrative Hearings, which hears cases involving various D.C. boards and agencies. Pearson, who was up for a 10-year term, had tried to hold on to the job. . . . The commission's discussions are not public. Sources familiar with the deliberations said the panel hasn't drafted a letter formally notifying Pearson of its decision. Until that is done, the sources said, the decision is not final. The letter could be sent early next week, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case. . . . The Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges first notified Pearson in August that it might not reappoint him, several weeks after he lost his civil suit against the dry cleaners. Yesterday's vote came after months of discussions, including two recent hearings in which Pearson defended his two-year record on the bench.

Why Does the Pants Judge Still Have His Job?


10-10-07 -- Just when we has stopped thinking about Judge Roy Pearson and his humiliating $54 million pants law suit for a second, the Examiner steps forward to ask the most important question of all: Why on Earth is Pearson still collecting a paycheck? . . . At the beginning of August, the panel that will ultimately decide Pearson's fate sent the beleaguered judge a letter letting him know his job was in jeopardy, but stopped short of actually firing him. At the time, they indicated they would make a final decision in about a week. That was two months ago. . . . Scott McCabe at the Examiner says the the panel still needs to hold a meeting to give Pearson one last chance to argue his case for keeping his job, which pays him $100,000 a year and would last for a 10-year term should he be reappointed. If such a hearing has even been scheduled, officials are refusing to reveal the date to reporters. . . . Isn't it time to call shenanigans on these guys? We know it's difficult to fire a judge, but what's the hold up with even holding the necessary hearing?

September 2007

Targets of Judge's $54 Million Suit Over a Pair of Pants Calling It Quits

New York Lawyer, By The Associated Press

9-20-07 -- The owners of a dry cleaner who were sued for $54 million over a missing pair of pants have closed and sold the business involved in the dispute. . . . The Chungs' attorney, Chris Manning, is citing a loss of revenue for Custom Cleaners and the emotional toll of defending the lawsuit. . . . The trouble began in 2005 after a pair of pants the plaintiff brought to the cleaners in Northeast Washington went missing. But a week later, the Chungs said the pants had been found. Roy Pearson, an administrative law judge, said those were not his pants and decided to sue. . . . The lawsuit originally demanded $67 million but was reduced to $54 million. A judge rejected it in June. . . . Manning said the Chungs have closed two of their three dry cleaning businesses since the lawsuit began.

August 2007

Agency Employing Pants Judge to be Reviewed


8-22-07 --Roy Pearson, the famed Pants Judge, has just under a week to respond to the letter he received from his employers earlier this month informing him that his job was in jeopardy. Knowing Pearson as we now do, it seems likely the Office of Administrative Hearings, which has employed him as an administrative law judge for the District (Pearson is currently serving as an attorney adviser to the OAH while his contract is under review, but is still on payroll), will receive a zealously argued, impassioned plea from the judge stating why he should be able to keep his job. But while the OAH waits for his response, they'll have other matters to deal with: The Examiner reports they're the subject of a thorough review by the The D.C. Inspector General.

Judge Says Cleaners' Bid Not Frivolous

By Henri E. Cauvin, Washington Post Staff Writer

8-17-07 --The judge who sent Roy Pearson packing gave him a final sendoff yesterday. . . . In a written order, D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff offered her take on the efforts by the Northeast Washington dry cleaners to collect attorneys' fees stemming from Pearson's failed lawsuit over a pair of pants. They were hardly frivolous, as Pearson had claimed, she said. . . . Ordinarily, awarding attorneys' fees against a consumer plaintiff such as Pearson would be unusual, Bartnoff said. . . . "But this is an unusual case, in which the plaintiff attempted to take what was at best a misunderstanding about one pair of pants and expand it to a claim of $67 million, based on legal theories that -- once they clearly were articulated -- were unsupported in fact or in law," the judge said. . . . On Monday, in a bid to bring the case to an end, the owners of Custom Cleaners withdrew their demand for attorneys' fees and asked Pearson to forgo his plans to appeal the verdict against him.

D.C. Judge Files Appeal Over Missing Pants

Brendan Smith, Legal Times 

8-15-07 -- D.C. administrative law judge Roy Pearson Jr. won't give up after losing his $54 million lawsuit against a local dry cleaner over a missing pair of pants. . . . Pearson filed an appeal Tuesday with the D.C. Court of Appeals, although the Chung family on Monday withdrew its motion seeking to compel Pearson to pay more than $82,000 in attorney fees. The Chungs have raised close to $100,000 through fundraisers and donations to help cover their legal fees and business losses after international media attention focusing on the case. . . . Pearson is soldiering on after losing a two-day bench trial in June where he wept over his missing pants, which he'd had altered because he gained weight while he was unemployed before becoming an administrative law judge in 2005. . . . Chris Manning, the Chungs' attorney, released a statement Tuesday: "The Chungs have done everything possible to put this nightmare behind them and return to their normal lives. They have won resoundingly at trial, raised donations from gracious private donors to pay for their litigation costs, let Mr. Pearson off the hook for personally paying their expenses and extended an olive branch to Mr. Pearson in hopes that he would end this matter and not appeal." . . . Manning added that Pearson has chosen "desperate irrationality over common sense and decided to appeal, unnecessarily costing the parties more wasted time and the D.C. taxpayers more wasted money."

Pearson to Appeal Pants Verdict

By Henri E. Cauvin, Washington Post Staff Writer

8-14-07 -- A day after the dry cleaners he sued tried to make peace, D.C. Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson filed official notice today that he plans to appeal the verdict against him to the District's highest court. . . . The owners of Custom Cleaners in Northeast Washington had hoped to head off Pearson by filing court papers withdrawing their demand for tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees and prevailing on him to let the case lie. . . . But today, a day before the deadline for filing his notice of appeal, Pearson -- whose $54 million suit arose from a dispute over a pair of pants that he claimed went missing -- submitted the requisite paperwork to the D.C. Superior Court. . . . So, for now at least, the case of Pearson v. Chung will remain alive, sustained by a two-page filing and a $100 fee. The filing doesn't guarantee Pearson will follow through. The case could be settled before either side ever finalizes its filings and long before arguments in court.

Dry Cleaners Cut Plaintiff Some Slack

By Henri E. Cauvin, Washington Post Staff Writer

8-14-07 -- The dry cleaners aren't pressing their case against the Pants Judge. . . . In a surprise turn yesterday, the small-business owners sued by D.C. Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson withdrew their demand that he pay nearly $83,000 for their legal bills, saying that enough money had been raised from supporters to cover the expenses and that they want to end the fighting. . ..  The cleaners want Pearson, who could soon be out of a job, to do the same. . ..  In the motion filed in D.C. Superior Court, the owners of Custom Cleaners ask Pearson, who lost his famous $54 million lawsuit two months ago, to call a halt to the legal proceedings. If he intends to appeal a judge's rejection of his lawsuit over a supposedly missing pair of pants, he has until tomorrow to file notice. . . . "With their losses and expenses now almost completely recouped, all Defendants want to do is make this case go away," Christopher Manning, an attorney for Soo Chung and her family, wrote in the seven-page motion. "Defendants' lives have been devastated and they want nothing more than to quietly return to running their dry cleaning business."

The Departed

Judge Tries to Avoid Paying Legal Bills Of Cleaners He Sued Over Missing Pants

By Henri E. Cauvin, Washington Post Staff Writer

8-13-07 -- The Pants Judge wants to keep the dry cleaners he sued out of his pockets. . . . In a filing in D.C. Superior Court, Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson said he should not be forced to pay legal fees to the dry cleaners he sued over a missing pair of pants. . . . A case that took nearly two weeks to decide could hardly be considered frivolous, Pearson said in a 65-page brief. The trial judge's written verdict did not take such a charitable view of Pearson's case, dismissing his allegations outright. . . . An order that Pearson pay attorney fees would be unusual, but the case against Custom Cleaners, a family-owned business on Bladensburg Road NE, was about as odd as they come.

Judge Who Sued Over Lost Pants May Now Lose Reappointment

Brendan Smith, Legal Times 

8-6-07 -- Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson Jr. became the poster boy for frivolous lawsuits with his unsuccessful $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner over a lost pair of pants. But questions about his temperament and demeanor as an administrative law judge had surfaced long before a media firestorm engulfed him this year. . . . Since his initial two-year term expired in May, Pearson has been sidelined from the bench and is still earning his $100,512 salary working as an attorney adviser at the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings. A commission that reappoints administrative law judges at the OAH is expected to vote today on the first step toward denying his appointment to a full 10-year term. . . . Chief Administrative Law Judge Tyrone Butler has complicated that process by offering shifting recommendations of neutral, positive, and finally negative about Pearson's reappointment, according to internal documents obtained by Legal Times. . . . Given their history, it's hard to imagine why Butler would have anything positive to say about Pearson. Less than three months after starting work in May 2005, Pearson sent a 14-page letter to then-Mayor Anthony Williams urging him "to inquire into whether corrupt ethics, demonstrably poor judgment and failed leadership constitute 'good cause' to remove Chief Judge Butler."

Commission Weighs Future of Litigious Judge

By Raw Fisherfrom Marc Fisher's Blog

8-3-07 -- By the middle of next week, Roy Pearson, the D.C. administrative law judge who sued his neighborhood dry cleaners for $54 million and lost, will receive a letter that starts the process that could put him out of a job. . . . City sources said a marathon meeting of the Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges ended late Monday with agreement to meet again next week to finalize wording of a letter explaining the panel's doubts about granting Pearson a 10-year term on the bench. Pearson's initial term expired at the end of April, at the height of his legal battle against the Chung family, owners of Custom Cleaners on Bladensburg Road NE.

July 2007

Judge won’t reconsider $54 million pants suit

But man who sued D.C. dry cleaner for lost garment is expected to press on

NBC News and news services

A customer who sued his dry cleaner for $54 million over a missing pair of pants has been denied in his efforts to get the judge in the widely mocked case to reconsider her decision. . . . Roy L. Pearson, a local administrative law judge, argued last week that District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff failed to address his legal claims. Bartnoff had ruled that the business owners did not violate the city's consumer protection law by failing to live up to his expectations of a "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign once displayed in the store. . . . Pearson's motion for reconsideration was turned down after Bartnoff found that he had not "presented any new argument or authority that warrants reconsideration of the Court's prior ruling," NBC reported Thursday.

Pants Suit Plaintiff Asks Judge to Reconsider

By Bill Miller, Washington Post Staff Writer

7-13-07 -- Roy Pearson isn't giving up his legal battle against the dry cleaning business he claims lost his pants. Late last night he asked the judge who ruled against him to reconsider his $54 million lawsuit. . . . Pearson filed court papers urging D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff to take another look at his case against Custom Cleaners. Bartnoff rejected the claims in a ruling June 25 , saying Pearson had not shown that the Northeast Washington shop violated the city's consumer protection laws.

Couple Asks Judge To Order Plaintiff To Pay Legal Fees

By Henri E. Cauvin, Washington Post Staff Writer

7-9-07 -- A dry cleaning business is turning the tables on a man who unsuccessfully sued the firm for $54 million, asking a judge to order him to cover $83,000 in legal fees. . . . The motion, filed in D.C. Superior Court, comes less than two weeks after a judge denied Roy Pearson's claim over a pair of pants that allegedly went astray. Pearson accused Custom Cleaners of failing to honor the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign posted at the shop. . . . Attorneys for the business's owners, Soo and Jin Chung, wrote that Pearson, an administrative law judge, conducted himself in an outrageous manner since the dispute began in spring 2005. . . . "From his outrageous demands for compensation . . . to his amazingly voluminous discovery and motions practice to his unconscionable continual disregard for the Court's Orders, Plaintiff's motives have been clear -- quite simply, to harass Defendants and to attempt to utterly destroy their lives," attorney Christopher Manning wrote. . . . As a lawyer and an administrative law judge, Pearson should have known better, Manning said. . . . "Instead of honoring our judicial system, the plaintiff decided to use his intimate knowledge (and unreasonable interpretations) of District of Columbia laws to harass and exploit hard working South Korean immigrants who work in excess of 70 hours a week to live the American dream," he wrote. . . . Now Pearson must face consequences, Manning said, adding, "Simply put, Defendants ask the Court to compensate the parties who have truly suffered throughout this bizarre odyssey -- the Chungs."

He's baaaa-ack:

The $54 Million Pants Suit That Won't Die

By Mark Fisher

7-6-07 -- Roy Pearson, the D.C. administrative law judge who filed, fought and lost a $54 million lawsuit against the Korean immigrants who own his neighborhood dry cleaners, chose the Fourth of July holiday to make it clear that he will not be going away. . . . Despite a clear finding by D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff that Pearson's case against Custom Cleaners had no merit and that the cleaners' possible misplacing of a pair of Pearson's pants was not worth a penny to the plaintiff, Pearson is back. He wrote to defense lawyer Christopher Manning this week to let the Chung family know that Pearson plans to file today a motion arguing that Bartnoff failed to address Pearson's legal claims and asking the judge to reverse her verdict in the case. . . . Manning, who has said that the Chungs have already been wiped out financially by the need to defend themselves against Pearson's two-year legal jihad, responded to Pearson by asking that he end the misery for the Chungs, who face legal bills of more than $100,000. Manning asked Pearson to consider moving on, for the Chungs' sake and for his own.

A kick in the pants

Maybe the missing-trousers case was so compelling because it was more than just another frivolous lawsuit.

LA Times Editorial

7-4-07 -- A JUDICIAL DECISION in Washington last week reverberated not just across the United States but throughout the world. We're referring not to the Supreme Court's decision on racial integration in public schools but to a ruling by the heretofore obscure D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff. . . . Bartnoff is the judge who ruled against Roy L. Pearson, a sort-of colleague (he's an administrative law judge) who had gone to court demanding $67 million — later reduced to $54 million — from a dry cleaner he claimed had lost a pair of his trousers. From Ireland to China to Australia, newspapers editorialized about Pearson's comeuppance. The glee was bipartisan and cross-ideological. The conservative Washington Times lavished praise on Bartnoff even though, as it noted, she was a Clinton appointee.

Frivolous Lawsuit Remedies

Victims-of-Law Commentary

6-30-07 -- There are court rules, state and federal statutes not to mention an abundance of case law allowing judges to dismiss frivolous law suits shortly after they are filed. We should not overlook the fact the DC judges handling this case permitted it to go out of control resulting in outrageous legal fees for the Chungs.

There are a number of groups that want to enact ‘tort reform’ and are using this case as the “poster child” for a “flawed legal system ravaged by greedy trial lawyers.”

While it was not surprising that Judge Bartnoff awarded court costs to the defendants (it became a high profile case), it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what the Chungs had to suffer emotionally and monetarily in our “flawed legal system.” It is the system itself that caused this case to drag on for almost two years. Was it because the plaintiff was an attorney and a DC administrative law judge? We think that may have had a lot to do with it.

It’s a well known fact that non-attorney Pro-se cases get little attention from judges no matter how meritorious. It’s thrown out either through a summary judgment procedure or as a frivolous suit with almost no hesitation.

The only ones who know the truth are those that have seen hundreds of cases thrown out and read the judicial decisions that were rive with falsehoods or outright distortions and generally lack mention of the actual allegations.

Yes, our flawed legal system needs to be changed, but not by ramming more laws down the throats of the citizenry. The people only want attorneys and judges to actually adhere to the “rule of law” as written, including obeying the state and federal constitutions and statutes as well as rules of court and evidence. It's the only fair way.

In the end the Chungs may prevail but at what price? One only has to recall the Duke case in North Carolina. Three young men had their lives ruined and the emotional and monetary damages went totally out of control. Unfortunately, this is a lot more common than the average person realizes.

No one should be "above the law."

Attorneys fees still climbing for Chungs

by John O'Brien

6-27-07 -- A litigation nightmare ended in a dream ruling for Jin and Soo Chung. Now there's the matter of the bill. . . . The Chungs were awarded court costs and ordered to pay nothing by Washington D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff, but the Korean couple who was sued for $54 million for misplacing a pair of pants still has a six-figure bill with attorney Chris Manning of Manning & Sossamon. . . . A possible appeal might push the tab even higher for the Chungs, who have considered moving back to South Korea. . . . "I think the likelihood of appeal is very high," Manning said. "Mr. Pearson has said as much on numerous occasions."


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Pants Verdict: Judge Stuffs The Pants Man

By: Marc Fisher

In an extremely cautious and detailed ruling, D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff this morning said that Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson deserves not a penny of the $67 million that he once demanded in compensation for a mixup at his neighborhood dry cleaners. . . . But astonishingly, Bartnoff said not a word in her decision about Pearson's handling of the case, or about the size of his demand, or about the bizarre scale of his legal assault on the immigrant family who own Custom Cleaners on Bladensburg Road NE. . . . Perhaps the judge didn't need to: She spoke with her actions instead, awarding the Chung family the costs of the case--an unusual move in a civil case in which each side would ordinarily be expected to pay their own costs. (But awarding costs is not the same as awarding attorney's fees--the big financial blow in any legal matter--and Judge Bartnoff said she would make that decision at a later date.) The Chungs were laid low by Pearson's two-year pursuit of the case; their legal fees wiped out their savings and forced them to consider moving back to their native land of South Korea. In addition, as the Chungs' lawyer, Christopher Manning, pointed out this morning, the Chungs still face the potentially enormous and almost certain costs of defending themselves against an almost-inevitable appeal of Bartnoff's decision by Pearson.

Why Judge Pearson's Lawsuit Matters

Posted by Carter Wood

6-20-07 -- Judge Roy Pearson's lawsuit against his drycleaners for losing his pants induces an equal amount of outrage and mockery, but it's important to remember that this kind of legal excess is not that unusual. U.S. businesses and citizens are constantly bedeviled by litigious cranks and cranky litigators. Small business owners are especially vulnerable to frivolous but destructive lawsuits. . . . Don Brunell, president of the Association of Washington Business, Washington state's chamber of commerce, addresses that sad fact and its consequences in an excellent op-ed in The Daily Columbian: . . . There is a mistaken assumption that a small proprietor slapped with a lawsuit simply lets his insurance company handle it. Wrong. Many business owners shoulder the costs themselves out of fear of higher premiums or the risk that their insurance company will cancel their coverage. Some start-up businesses simply cannot afford liability insurance. In fact, the [Institute for Legal Reform] study shows that, in 2005, small business owners paid $20 billion out of their own pockets for court costs and out-of-court settlements. . . . Finally, the smallest businesses, those with revenues of less than $1 million, paid $31 billion in lawsuit-related costs. Let's put that in perspective. These businesses, which represent just 6 percent of total business revenues, paid more than 20 percent of the national tort tab. These lawsuits really do hit the "little guy" who struggles to make ends meet.

The Great American Pants Suit
A judge pins a $67 million value on a pair of trousers--his own.
By Walter Olson, Wall Street Journal

6-18-07 -- When attorney Roy Pearson filed suit demanding $67 million from the Chung family, whose Washington dry cleaners had mishandled his pair of trousers, he must have felt he was sitting pretty. Menacing a merchant who's annoyed you with terrifyingly high legal penalties--that's the way to show who wears the pants, right? . . . Mr. Pearson probably had no idea that his Great American Pants Suit--the trial of which just wound up in a Washington courtroom last week, with a verdict expected this week--would stir commentary around the world and come to symbolize the extent to which lawsuits in America can serve as a hobby for the spiteful and a weapon for the rapacious.

It's nice to see that even the organized plaintiffs bar piously deplores Mr. Pearson's abuse of the law. It would be even nicer if they agreed to stop opposing reforms that would give the Chungs of the world a fighting chance the next time around.

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Pearson's Boss: Dude's Too Crazy to Be a Judge


If the results of our poll yesterday are any indication, ordinary people feel pretty strongly that administrative law Judge Roy Pearson is a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and really ought not to be a judge anymore. Finally, the Examiner brings word that Pearson's employer agrees with that sentiment.

Pants lawsuit could cost D.C. judge his $100,000 job

by Scott McCabe and Dan Genz, The Examiner

(AP) Photo

Administrative law judge Roy Pearson leaves court after the second day of his trial in Washington on Wednesday. Jin and Soo Chung are being sued by Pearson for $54 million for what he calls "misleading signage" at their dry-cleaning business. . . . The boss of Roy L. Pearson Jr., the administrative law judge whose $54 million pants lawsuit has turned the D.C. legal system into a punch line on late-night talk shows, has recommended that the city deny Pearson another term on the bench, D.C. government sources said Thursday. . . . In a letter to the three-person commission that will decide whether Pearson gets reappointed, District of Columbia Chief Administrative Judge Tyrone T. Butler said Pearson does not deserve a 10-year term to the post, which pays more than $100,000 a year. . . . “My sense is that the commission will not reappoint him,” a D.C. government source said. . . . Butler’s letter reverses his previous recommendation in support of Pearson that he sent to the commission before the pants suit case gained worldwide notoriety.

Trial Began  June 12, 2007


Judge Judith Bartnoff said she would rule by the end of next week after attorneys delivered their closing arguments on Wednesday the 13th.

Wearing Down the Judicial System With a Pair of Pants

By Marc Fisher, Washington Post

Don't look for Roy Pearson to be out shopping for new suit pants this weekend. At the end of the $54 million pants suit in D.C. Superior Court yesterday, Judge Judith Bartnoff said she wouldn't issue a decision until next week but nonetheless gave a strong hint of her direction. . . . After listening to Pearson argue for hour upon hour that he was somehow protecting the interests of all Washingtonians by using the D.C. consumer protection law to punish Custom Cleaners for allegedly losing a pair of his pants, Bartnoff said: "This is a very important statute to protect consumers. It's also very important that statutes like this are not misused." *****How does such a case get to trial? How does one man get to make a laughingstock of the system? Judges chipped away at Pearson's case for two years, limiting the witnesses he could call, trimming his claims. But Pearson prevailed by burying the court in paperwork and bringing up arguments just plausible enough to allow him a hearing. Nobody wants to be on the wrong end of a Pearson lawsuit; that fear lets him charge ahead.

Man suing over trousers aims to fund more cases

By Andy Sullivan

(Reuters) - The judge who sued his dry cleaning shop for $54 million over a lost pair of trousers said as the trial wrapped up on Wednesday that he would use any winnings he might get to encourage others to follow suit. . . . Roy L. Pearson, an administrative judge for the District of Columbia, said he only needed $2.5 million for himself to cover the emotional distress he suffered after Custom Cleaners misplaced a pair of pants he brought in for alteration. . . . The remainder, he said, would be used "as an incentive for other attorneys in private practice to take on these kinds of cases."

DAY TWO -- 6/13/07

Pants Trial Day Two: We See The Pants

Marc Fisher

June 13, 2007 -- At noon precisely on Day Two of the $54 million pants case, we saw The Pants. Defense attorney Christopher Manning unveiled the suit trousers that Roy Pearson says are not his and that the owners of Custom Cleaners say are indeed the ones that Pearson submitted for a $10.50 alteration back in 2005. . . . The dramatic moment in Courtroom 415 at D.C. Superior Court revealed that yes, the pants look like they are part of a suit, and yes, the dry cleaners attached to these pants a tag with the same numbers that appeared on the receipt Pearson got for his suit. But Pearson still denies these are his pants, and still demands $54 million, though he has not yet wept today. . . . Pearson finally completed his lengthy testimony this morning and Manning proceeded to conduct a short but withering cross-examination in which Pearson, himself an administrative law judge for the D.C. government, revealed his unusual beliefs about the relationship between merchants and customers: . . . Pearson told the defense lawyer that if the tables were turned and he were in the place of the Chung family, the owners of the Northeast Washington cleaners who purportedly lost Pearson's pants, he would have immediately written a check for $1,150--the replacement value of the Hickey Freeman suit to which the pants belonged--to provide the satisfaction that the store's "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign promised.

'Ele-pant' case needs real Judge Judy

By Judi McLeod

June 13, 2007 -- Roy Pearson's demand for $65 million in damages from a neighbourhood dry cleaners should go down in legal history as the Case of the 'Ele-pants'. . . . The D.C. judge who sued his neighbourhood dry cleaners all for losing his pants has got to be the personification of capital "F" frivolous lawsuits. . . . In a world where parents survive children killed by predators, Pearson, an administrative law judge, broke down while testifying about the emotional pain of having the cleaners give him the wrong trousers.

Judge Who Seeks Millions for Lost Pants Has His (Emotional) Day in Court

By Marc Fisher

June 13, 2007 -- Before trial began yesterday in the case of the D.C. judge who sued his neighborhood dry cleaners after they lost his pants, the most extraordinary fact was Roy Pearson's demand for $54 million in damages. . . . That was before Pearson, an administrative law judge, broke down while testifying about the emotional pain of having the cleaners give him the wrong pants. It was before an 89-year-old woman in a wheelchair told of being chased out of the cleaners by an angry owner. And it was before she compared the owners of Custom Cleaners in open court to Nazis. . . . "I knew it: It's all my fault," said the reporter from German television who was sitting next to me. . . . The global import of Pearson v. Custom Cleaners was evident from the start. The courtroom was packed with members of the Korean Dry Cleaners Association and reporters from print and broadcast outlets in at least five countries. The guy from the tort reform lobby handed out bright green buttons protesting the $65 million "pantsuit."

DAY ONE -- 6/12/07

Pearson Pants Trial Standing-Room Only


The civil trial for D.C. administrative law judge Roy L. Pearson's lawsuit against local dry cleaning business Custom Cleaners, in which he's now asking for $54 million — as opposed to the original $67 million suit he filed in April — is underway right now at the at D.C. Superior Court. WTOP's Neal Augenstein reports that the courtroom is currently standing-room only. . . . Pearson's original suit sought damages for the loss of his pants, as well as claiming the city's consumer protection laws were violated. He later modified his complaint to focus on the consumer protection aspect, focusing on the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service" promises made by signs hung up inside the shop. A lawyer for the Chung family, which owns Custom Cleaners in Northeast D.C., says no reasonable person would interpret the signs as an unconditional promise of satisfaction. Pearson is representing himself in the case. Just in from WTOP.

$54 Million Pants Suit Begins

A Local Man Who Says the Dry Cleaners Lost His Pants Wants $54 Million Dollars in Damages

By Jim Avila & Chris Francescani, ABC News Law & Justice Unit

This morning in the nation's capital, a local judge will go to civil court to claim that he is owed $54 million from a local dry cleaner who he says lost his pants. . . . The case gained national attention soon after the lawsuit was filed. The pants are expected to be introduced into evidence, although the judge says the pants are not his, and the correct pants are still missing. . . . The sartorial loss caused Washington, D.C., administrative law judge Roy Pearson to suffer what he calls severe "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort." . . . The defendants, who own Custom Cleaners in the Fort Lincoln section of the district, told ABC News last month that they, too, are feeling inconvenience and discomfort.

Should This Judge Be Removed: Part 3

Posted by Bill Canis, National Association of Manufacturers

6-8-09 -- Not long ago, we focused on a Washington, DC administrative law judge who is suing his dry cleaners for $65 million because they misplaced his pants. It's hard to imagine a greater travesty under the law, but it is compounded by the fact that the DC government keeps this legal abuser on the payroll. . . . Now word comes out that Judge Roy Pearson, the administrative law judge, has reduced his claim to a mere $54 million and has shifted its focus, from the missing pants to an allegation that the dry cleaner's signs, offering "same day service," were violated in this instance. . . . Meanwhile, the hard working Korean owners of the business continue to pay hefty legal bills to deal with this clown's fantasies. And of course DC taxpayers get to keep paying what is probably a very hefty salary. All in all, DC's image is being greatly tarnished by this escapade and so is the image of judges everywhere. It's past time for Judge Pearson to set free of his judicial duties so that he may finally understand that ideas--bad ideas in this case--have consequences.

Pants Suit Judge Subject Of Disciplinary Complaint

North Country Gazette

6-4-07 -- The judge at the center of the infamous $65 million lawsuit against his long-time dry cleaner for losing a pair of his pants is the subject of an ethics complaint filed against him by the American Association for Justice. . . . Jon Haber, CEO of AAJ, has written a letter to the District of Columbia Bar, asking that it open an investigation into Judge Roy Pearson, a DC administrative hearings judge,  for his pursuit of the dry cleaner lawsuit. . . . The Chung family, immigrants from South Korea, have become the targets of Pearson.  Jin Nam Chung, Ki Chung and their son, Soo Chung, have operated a dry cleaning business, Custom Cleaners in Northeast Washington, for the past seven years. . . . Pearson took several suits to the cleaners on May 2005 although he had already had several disagreements with the Chung family. When he requested his suits two days later, a pair of pants from one of the suits wasn’t ready.  Pearson wanted the Chungs to reimburse him over $1,000, the full price of the suit, saying that the pants were lost. . . . In his letter, Haber stated: “Our court system has no place for those who abuse the instruments of justice for personal gain or the intimidation of others.”

May 2007

Legally Speaking: Justice gets taken to the cleaners

By John Browning

5-23-07 -- In nearly 18 years of practicing law, I've seen some cases that I considered to be fairly frivolous - people suing for causes of action that don't exist, parties seeking Texas courts to hear disputes that lack even the most remote connection to our state, and individuals filing lawsuits years and even decades after a perceived wrong. . . . Frankly, I thought I'd seen it all - until I learned about Roy Pearson, Jr.'s lawsuit. Mr. Pearson is suing his dry cleaners in Washington, D.C., for allegedly losing a pair of his pants. . . . What takes this matter out of the realm of small claims courts and makes it fodder for late night talk show hosts' punch lines? Pearson is suing for $67 million. . . . I own some nice suits, but not $67 million nice. . . . What could make this story of abusing the civil justice system even better? Roy Pearson happens to be someone who should know a thing or two about how backlogged our courts are - he's a judge.

The Judge With the $65 Million Pants Is No Stranger to Goofy Filings

New York Lawyer, By The Staff of Legal Times

5-17-07 -- D.C. administrative law judge Roy Pearson Jr. isn't making many new friends with his $65 million lawsuit against a local dry cleaner for losing a pair of his pants. . . . The American Association for Justice, the renamed Association of Trial Lawyers of America, filed an ethics complaint against Pearson last week with the D.C. Bar. . . . This isn't the first time Pearson has filed tons of documents and demanded payment in a court case. Just ask his ex-wife. In 2005, the Virginia Court of Appeals denied Pearson's appeal seeking at least $10,000 in spousal support in his divorce from Rhonda VanLowe, legal counsel for Rolls-Royce North America. Pearson wanted VanLowe to help support him because he was receiving unemployment benefits in 2003 before he was appointed as an administrative law judge in 2005. . . . The trial judge also had ordered him to pay $12,000 in legal fees to VanLowe because Pearson excessively drove up legal costs by "creating unnecessary litigation" and threatening both VanLowe and her lawyer with disbarment, the appeals ruling stated.

Judgment Required

Letter to Editor by John DeLuca

5-12-07 -- Regarding Marc Fisher's May 10 Metro column, "Judge in $65 Million Suit Might Keep Seat on Bench": How can it be that Judge Roy Pearson's job performance is unrelated to his extracurricular activity?

A judge is appointed to use good judgment. For purposes of this letter, I shall assume that Mr. Pearson's facts are correct; indeed, I shall assume that the defendants falsely advertised, and even may have committed fraud on the good judge. What should the penalty be for such behavior? Does the amount demanded, $65 million, bear any reasonable relation to the offense?

I do not know the parties, and I do not really care one way or the other, but it seems to me that Mr. Pearson is simply being vindictive.

The law does not exact vengeance, it establishes liability, assesses reasonable damage and makes an award. The judge may have a constitutional right to file a suit, but that right, unreasonably exercised, is evidence of his poor judgment and bears on his qualifications to be a judge.

I am not a trial attorney; nor am I a tort reformer. However, I simply do not understand why the trial judge handling the lawsuit did not throw it out as unreasonable.

Judge in $65 Million Suit Might Keep Seat on Bench

By Marc Fisher

5-10-07 -- Around the D.C. government and around the world, Roy Pearson -- the man who sued his neighborhood dry cleaner for $65 million in a dispute over a missing pair of pants -- has become a laughingstock, a symbol of a legal system gone wild, another blot on the image of the District. . . . So last week, when the order came from managers of the city's Web site to remove Pearson's biography from the page about his job as an administrative law judge, a cheer went up among the techies in the office. Word spread like wildfire: Finally, the city had acted to salvage its reputation. . . . It's true that Pearson's term as a judge expired last week, his bio was taken down from the Web site and, for now, he is no longer hearing cases. . . . But he remains on the D.C. payroll, "doing administrative work," said a senior city official who declined to be named because he was discussing a personnel matter. Pearson will be in paid limbo for weeks while a commission decides whether to reappoint him for a 10-year term to handle disputes with city agencies.

Disciplinary Investigation Called for in Dry Cleaners Case

5-10-07 -- PRNewswire-USNewswire

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) today called for a disciplinary investigation of District of Columbia Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson Jr., who brought a $65 million lawsuit against a family-owned dry cleaning business for losing his pants. . . . (Click to read Jon Haber's letter) . . . In his letter, Haber stated: "Our court system has no place for those who abuse the instruments of justice for personal gain or the intimidation of others." . . . In addition to the call for an investigation, AAJ President Lewis S. "Mike" Eidson stated "As attorneys who are committed to helping Americans receive justice throughout courts, we are outraged by the very idea of a $65 million claim over a pair of pants. It is not only ridiculous -- it is offensive to our values." . . . Eidson and Haber have also personally pledged to contribute to a defense fund established to support the dry cleaners. . . . In a message to AAJ board members today (available upon request), Eidson emphasized that the unique nature of this case should not be used to undermine the important role of the nation's civil justice system. "This case is clearly atypical and we cannot allow those who oppose us on fundamental issues of access to the civil justice system to turn this case into an indictment of that system," said Eidson. "Our mission continues to be to ensure Americans have a level playing field in our courtrooms -- even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations."

The $65 Million (Pants) Man

The Blog of Legal Times

5-10-07 --D.C. administrative law judge Roy Pearson Jr. isn't making many new friends with his lawsuit seeking $65 million against a local dry cleaner for losing a pair of his pants. The pants, though not encrusted with diamonds or forged from platinum, were very close to Pearson's heart because he also wants damages for "mental suffering." . . . The American Association for Justice, which sounds like a group of superheros but is the renamed Association of Trial Lawyers of America, filed an ethics complaint against Pearson yesterday with the D.C. Bar and has established a defense fund for Custom Cleaners in the two-year-old suit. No word yet on the size of the fund or whether donations are being collected in $1.25 increments. . . . This isn't the first time Pearson has filed tons of documents and demanded payment in a court case. Just ask his ex-wife. In 2005, the Virginia Court of Appeals denied Pearson's appeal seeking at least $10,000 in spousal support in his divorce from Rhonda VanLowe, legal counsel for Rolls-Royce North America. Pearson wanted VanLowe to support him because he was receiving unemployment benefits in 2003, apparently before he was appointed as a contract hearing examiner in D.C. police complaints and then as an administrative law judge in 2005.

Jon Haber letter to District of Columbia Bar Association

May 8, 2007

Mr. James Sandman
District of Columbia Bar Association
1250 H St. NW, Sixth Floor
Washington DC 20005

Dear Mr. Sandman:

As a member of the District of Columbia Bar, I believe that the widely reported actions of Mr. Roy Pearson, Jr. in pursuing a $65 million dollar lawsuit against a local dry cleaning business appear to constitute a serious abuse of the civil justice system and warrant a disciplinary inquiry from the Bar.

Media reports indicate that Mr. Pearson, an administrative law judge and member of the District of Columbia Bar has relentlessly pursued his lawsuit against Custom Cleaners, a family-owned dry cleaner, for temporarily misplacing a pair of his suit pants. Despite an apparently generous settlement offer that includes the return of the once-missing suit pants, news reports indicate that Mr. Pearson has maintained his action over a two-year period, filed thousands of pages in documents and made damage claims that appear to be farfetched and unjustified. Moreover, it appears that Mr. Pearson's actions in this matter are consistent with his behavior in prior legal disputes, where he has followed courses of action both that appear both vexatious and disproportionate to any legitimate claim.

The American civil justice system ought to be a point of pride, both to the public and the profession. It enables those who, in good faith, believe that they have been wronged to pursue justice and have an impartial tribunal resolve responsibility. Only in such a courtroom can everyone - regardless of wealth, connections or political clout - stand on a level playing field of justice.

Our court system has no place for those who abuse the instruments of justice for personal gain or the intimidation of others, rather than just compensation. That Mr. Pearson occupies a position of public trust as an administrative law judge, in addition to his membership in the Bar, further intensifies the dishonor that his apparent actions have cast on both the system and the profession. As attorneys, we have a special obligation to preserve the integrity of our civil justice system.

Our commitment must be to strengthening the civil justice system so that deserving individuals can get justice, wrongdoers are held accountable, and efforts to weaken basic legal protections are repelled.

For actions inconsistent with the oath and office of our learned profession, I urge that the District of Columbia Bar investigate this matter and take appropriate disciplinary action.


Jon Haber

Chief Executive Officer, American Association for Justice

Corrupt Judiciary System Hurting Family

by Jay D. Homnick 

5-7-07 -- In Jewish ritual, a special blessing is recited by a person who was in mortal danger and survived.  The text thanks God for bestowing an act of grace upon one who apparently deserved to die.  The old joke tells of a fellow approaching the rabbi asking to utter the benediction.  His pants, he says, were on the clothesline outside his third-storey apartment and a brisk wind blew them down into the street.  “But how were you in danger?” asks the Rabbi. . . . “Can you imagine what would have happened to me if I was wearing them at the time?” . . . One very creepy citizen in our nation’s capital has revived this ludicrous logic and in the process has contorted and distorted the tort to the point of extortion.  The dry cleaner mislaid his pants on a day where he had to put in an important public appearance and he is treating the matter as if his body went into the shredder along with the trousers.  He is suing all three owners of the concern (a three-piece suit?) for a total of sixty-seven million dollars.  In pain and suffering terms, that is the equivalent of four dismemberments, three cancers and a mangled facelift that leaves a man looking like Buddy Hackett.

Someone Should Sue YOUR Pants Off!

by Jayme Evans

5-7-07 -- They say justice is blind. . . . I submit to you that it is blind, deaf, dumb, lame, mute, and stupid. It is also quite tyrannical when brought to bear as a weapon against an individual or the fruits of their labor. . . . One of the biggest problems in America is the plague of frivolous litigation that is clogging up the nation's court systems. From a spilled cup of hot coffee while driving, to a severed finger planted in a bowl of fast food chili, the claims of irreversible harm and emotional distress encouraged by multi-million dollar jury verdicts continue to border on the absurd. . . . Recent estimates indicate that the average American coughs up an additional $3,500.00 per year for everyday goods and services [1] as a result of frivolous litigation brought by individuals with an axe to grind. . . . As an orderly society, we cannot function without certain individuals to teach us, guide us, heal us, or protect us. That is why we hold professions such as priests, judges, teachers, and police officers more accountable than others. It is also why the citizens of Washington DC must hold DC Administrative Law Judge Roy L. Pearson accountable.

Kick in the Pants

Just deserts for a ludicrous lawsuit

Washington Post Editorial

5-3-07 -- IS THERE anything more absurd than someone pursuing a $65 million lawsuit over a lost pair of pants? Well, how about this same person being in a position to adjudicate the cases of other people? Or that there's a chance of his getting a new 10-year term as judge? . . . A panel of four D.C. officials is considering the reappointment of administrative law judge Roy L. Pearson Jr. in light of devastating publicity about a court case he brought. As reported by Post columnist Marc Fisher, Mr. Pearson wants his local dry cleaner to pay him millions of dollars for the "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort" caused by the loss of his pants as well as for his legal costs. The unfortunate people being sued by Mr. Pearson say that they offered reimbursement, tried to settle and even ended up finding what they believe are the pants. But Mr. Pearson persisted with his outrageous demands, and the owners of Custom Cleaners say they incurred staggering legal bills. A trial is set for next month; we hope a judge will finally inject some sense into proceedings that have already taken ludicrous amounts of time. . . . That Mr. Pearson was able to persist in such a case raises questions about D.C. consumer protection laws. The American Tort Reform Association said that city law, while well intentioned, is so loosely worded that it allows abuse. D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer and the D.C. Council need to take a look. . . . Equally serious is whether Mr. Pearson should continue in his $100,512 job adjudicating alleged civil infractions of D.C. rules. The case raises serious questions about his judgment and temperament. Moreover, this is not the first case involving Mr. Pearson that has raised such questions. The Virginia Court of Appeals, in a 2005 review of Mr. Pearson's divorce proceedings, upheld findings that he created "unnecessary litigation" in a relatively simple case and was responsible for "excessive driving up" of legal costs. . . . As the four-member judicial tenure commission considers another term for Mr. Pearson, it should think back to why the Office of Administrative Hearings was created in the first place: to increase public confidence in the system of administrative justice.

Judge Pearson, we will buy you a new suit

Sherman Joyce

5-2-07 -- D.C. Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson Jr. is suing his dry cleaner — over a supposedly lost pair of pants — for more than $65 million. . . . The pants were found long ago and are readily available to Pearson. What may become unavailable to him, unless he drops this wholly outrageous and abusive lawsuit, is a reputation as an ethical, high-integrity officer of the court. . . . Since my organization, the American Tort Reform Association, works to limit this kind of abusive litigation that so hinders small and large businesses alike, we’re offering to raise the necessary funds to buy Pearson a high-quality suit of his choosing if he’ll just do the right thing. . . . But since our generous offer may not do the trick, ATRA also wrote Monday to the four men who will decide this week if Pearson will be reappointed to a 10-year term with a handsome salary at taxpayers’ expense. . . . Our letter to Chief Administrative Law Judge Tyrone Butler and the three men who make up the Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges — Robert Rigsby, Henry Levine and Peter Wilner — read as follows (hyperlinks added):

Dear Judge Butler and Commissioners Rigsby, Levine and Wilner:

On behalf of the American Tort Reform Association, which works to combat lawsuit abuse, I urge you to carefully reconsider the reappointment of Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson Jr. to a 10-year term, scheduled to commence in three days on May 2.

As you are almost surely aware by now, thanks to extensive local and national media coverage, Judge Pearson has chosen to exploit the District’s well-intentioned but loosely worded Consumer Protection and Procedures Act in suing a family-owned D.C. dry cleaner for more than $65 million — over a lost pair of suit pants.

Though the pants have long since been found and made available to him, Judge Pearson has stubbornly continued to waste precious Superior Court resources in a clearly misguided effort to extort a hardworking family that provides a service to its community and tax revenue to the District government.

In a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post, former National Labors Relations Board chief administrative law judge Melvin Welles urged “any bar to which Mr. Pearson belongs to immediately disbar him and the District to remove him from his position as an administrative law judge.”

To those of us who carefully study the litigation industry’s growing abuse of consumer protection laws around the country (see ATRA general counsel Victor Schwartz’s recent article from Executive Counsel magazine, “Consumer Protection Acts Are a Springboard for Lawsuit Abuse,” enclosed) and to everyday D.C. taxpayers who collectively provide Pearson with a considerable salary, his persistence in this lawsuit raises serious question about his capacity to serve the city as a “fair, impartial, effective, and efficient” judge, as required by the Office of Administrative Hearings Establishment Act.

If Pearson goes ahead with his lawsuit, any party who comes before him in future administrative hearings could understandably lack confidence in his judgment and judicial temperament. Furthermore, this case will become fodder for late-night comics, various members of Congress and other assorted critics of D.C. government if this case, scheduled for trial June 11, remains in the headlines.

Judicial temperament is a critical characteristic of an outstanding jurist. Any individual who chooses to pursue a case such as Pearson’s, at a minimum, calls into question his or her’s. As you consider his reappointment, we strongly urge you to examine closely his judicial temperament and decide whether it is sufficient to serve the people of the District of Columbia properly as an administrative law judge.

Sherman Joyce, President
American Tort Reform Association

The $67 million pair of pants?

by: Elizabeth McGowan, DC North

April 2007 -- It seems attorney Roy Pearson Jr. is trying to dictate who wears the pants in the courtroom. . . . The Fort Lincoln resident - who serves as a DC administrative law judge - claims his neighborhood dry cleaner owes him big-time for allegedly losing a pair of his suit pants in May 2005. But instead of accepting the $12,000 in compensation proffered by the owners of Custom Cleaners on Bladensburg Road, Pearson opted to go to DC Superior Court for what he’s assured will be a large payoff in punitive damages. . . . At a June 11-12 non-jury trial, Associate Judge Judith Bartnoff will decide if the pants presented as evidence indeed belong to Pearson. If not, Pearson could be entitled to the $1,450 he claims it would cost to replace the suit. If the judge finds cleaner owners Soo and Jin Nam Chung and their son Ki Y. guilty of willful and malicious behavior, Pearson might have punitive damages coming his way.  . . . Christopher Manning, the Chungs’ attorney, is certain the pants to be presented at the trial belong to Pearson. He maintains that Pearson is making unreasonable demands. . . . “You can tell (Bartnoff) thinks it’s complete bunk,” Manning said in an interview after a March 21 hearing. “It’s incredibly preposterous that he’s making so much out of something so insignificant. He filed the case because he’s an attorney. No attorney in his right mind would take a case like this on contingency.” . . . Astoundingly, Pearson, who won’t grant interviews, filed a case claiming he and other wronged customers at Custom Cleaners were due $67,292,000 for damages, mental suffering and attorney’s fees. Pearson had also claimed that the cleaners should not be allowed to display signs reading “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” “Same Day Service” and “All Work Done on Premises” because they are deceptive and fraudulent to customers.

Former Chief Administrative Law Judge Melvin Welles wrote to the Washington Post:

4-30-07 -- As a lawyer and former administrative law judge, I am particularly aggrieved by District administrative law judge Roy Pearson's $65 million lawsuit against Custom Cleaners after the neighborhood dry cleaner misplaced one pair of his pants. The manifest absurdity of it is too obvious to require explanation.

If I were adjudicating the case, I would not only grant a motion to dismiss it but would also order Mr. Pearson to reimburse the owners of Custom Cleaners for all their expenses in defending it and to pay them several million dollars for their "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort."

I would also direct any bar to which Mr. Pearson belongs to immediately disbar him and the District to remove him from his position as an administrative law judge. Perhaps a class action by the D.C. Bar Association for the damage he has done to the legal profession might also be appropriate.

The writer was chief administrative law judge at the National Labor Relations Board from 1981 to 1993.

Lawyer's Price For Missing Pants: $65 Million

By Marc Fisher

Victims-of-Law Commentary

What’s the matter with the trial judge in this case? It is clearly a frivolous suit being pursued by an unethical attorney who is also an administrative law judge in D.C. Pearson should be disbarred and removed from the bench.

4-26-07 -- When the neighborhood dry cleaner misplaced Roy Pearson's pants, he took action. He complained. He demanded compensation. And then he sued. Man, did he sue. . . . Two years, thousands of pages of legal documents and many hundreds of hours of investigative work later, Pearson is seeking to make Custom Cleaners pay -- would you believe more than the payroll of the entire Washington Nationals roster? . . . He says he deserves millions for the damages he suffered by not getting his pants back, for his litigation costs, for "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort," for the value of the time he has spent on the lawsuit, for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years and for a replacement suit, according to court papers. . . . Pearson is demanding $65,462,500. The original alteration work on the pants cost $10.50. . . . By the way, Pearson is a lawyer. Okay, you probably figured that. But get this: He's a judge, too -- an administrative law judge for the District of Columbia.

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Jin Nam and Soo Chung
of Custom Cleaners




“It is not honorable to take mere legal advantage, when it happens to be contrary to justice.”
--Thomas Jefferson--

“There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are ‘just’ because the law makes them so.”
--Frederic Bastiat--


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Updated 01/26/2012