Justice Prevails in Ridiculous DC Pants Lawsuit; Now Can We Have Some Serious Tort Reform?

There was no surprise really in today’s verdict in Washington, D.C., for the owners of a small dry-cleaning business defending against the ludicrous $67 million lawsuit by (soon-to-be-former) Judge Roy (Pants) Pearson for allegedly losing his lucky pair of pants. But you haven’t heard the end of this ridiculous case.

Pearson will have to pay the Chung’s court costs (about $1,000 — too bad the amount won’t be exponentially multiplied by the same crazy formula Pearson used in determining the award he was seeking). Still to come are rulings on whether he’ll have to pony up the tens of thousands of dollars for the Chung’s attorney expenses and whether he faces any sanctions for his abusive lawsuit. Click here to read today’s 22-page ruling.

Pearson’s two-year term as “beginning administrative law judge” expired at the end of April. It is up  to an administrative board whether to renew his contract for a full, 10-year term. One would think his chances are rather slim. Pearson has become a international laughingstock (e.g., it’s the #1 story at the moment on BBC News,com) and his lawsuit the new gold standard in frivolous litigation illustrating the need for serious tort reform in this country.

Even the trial lawyers lobby long ago disavowed Pearson, wishing his embarrassing suit would just go away. The American Association of Justice issued a statement today “commending the fair verdict in ‘pants’ case” calling the lawsuit “ridiculous and an offense to our values.” And that’s saying something, considering the AAJ (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America before they ruined that “good” name) has defended the alleged merits of some pretty outrageous lawsuits before — including the notorious $2.9 million verdict in 1994 against McDonald’s over a spilled cup of hot coffee.

Supporters of tort reform will certainly keep the case of “Pants” Pearson infamous for years to come. Indeed, this case demonstrates exactly the dynamic that needs to be changed — litigation intended as extortion, seeking settlements or jury awards on the scale of a state lottery windfall, with no proportionality to the damages incurred.

There’s yet another reason you haven’t heard the end of this case: Pearson is expected to appeal.

- Jon Harmon

Comments

  1. TDS says:

    I actually don’t have a problem with going to court itself, a person has the right to go to court if s/he feels other attempts to settle a complaint are not to his satifaction. I’m just amazed it went this far before a judge ruled on it. How he arrived at the $54 mil (previously $64 mil) is outrageous. Even if he won, he’d never get it. I don’t think the lawsuit is frivolous, but the dollar amount I believe are excessive.

  2. Justin Severson says:

    THe exact point is that one can seek revenge by forcing one to represent them self, incurring substantial fees and in this case the defendant was forced to close two businesses to pay legal fees!

  3. I think this guy should be thrown in jail especially since he is a lawyer.

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