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Here Comes The Sludge
I recently spoke before the zoning board about a neighborhood issue. The West L.A. judge, to whom our neighborhood's brought a case once before, has both times impressed me with his wisdom, humor, fairness, and the way he brings opposing parties together.

Wouldn't it be nice if the person hearing the cases in court was actually expected to be wise, fair, and mature? Shouldn't that be...dare I say...a requirement for a judge? (And don't get me started on therapists -- there are herds of them out there whose level of wisdom should qualify them only for a position on one of those road crews picking up trash along the highway.)

Amazing story in Marc Fisher's Washington Post column about a lawyer and administrative law judge for the District of Columbia who is suing his dry cleaner for -- get this -- $65 million dollars for a misplaced pair of his pants.

Administrative law judge? Yes, and here's the job description for the Office of Administrative Hearings (oah@dc.gov / 202-442-9091) for the District of Columbia:

Mission

The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) enhances the quality of life in our city by providing residents with a fair, efficient and effective system to manage and resolve administrative litigation arising under District of Columbia law. By developing innovative reforms for the District of Columbia's system of administrative justice, OAH fosters public confidence in that system and promotes higher levels of voluntary compliance that ensure greater health, safety and well-being in our community.

Vision

A national model of high-quality administrative adjudication that provides a just system for both the public and the government agencies it serves, thereby helping to support a healthier, safer and more vibrant community.

Um, would the last person you'd pick for this job maybe be a guy, who, in the breakdown of his obscenely ridiculous lawsuit, asks for $15,000 so he can rent a car every weekend for 10 years to take his clothes to another dry cleaner? (Poor dear doesn't own a car, and there's no other dry cleaner in the neighborhood, and this is the "solution" he proposes.) Just hearing that detail alone, I'm compelled to call the number above and suggest that every case this guy ever tried get reviewed (and that they fire his ass, of course, too).

The whole thing started in 2005, when the plaintiff, D.C. administrative law judge Roy Pearson, dropped off a pair of pants on May 3 so he could wear them on May 6, to his new job. May 5, the pants weren't ready. Dry cleaner Soo Chung promised them for early the next morning, but when Pearson arrived, the pants weren't there. Fisher writes:

At this point, I should let you in on the subject of hundreds of pages of legal wrangling. Custom Cleaners at that time had two big signs on its walls. One said "Satisfaction Guaranteed," and the other said, "Same Day Service."

Pearson relied on these signs. Deeply.

He was not satisfied. And he did not get his pants back on the same day or, for that matter, on any day.

This, he says, amounts to fraud, negligence and a scam.

A week after that routine mishap -- pants go astray all the time at cleaners -- Soo Chung came up with gray trousers that she said were Pearson's. But when the judge said that he had dropped off pants with red and blue pinstripes, there was no joy in Fort Lincoln.

Pearson's first letter to the Chungs sought $1,150 so he could buy a new suit. Two lawyers and many legal bills later, the Chungs offered Pearson $3,000, then $4,600 and, finally, says their attorney, Chris Manning, $12,000 to settle the case.

But Pearson pushes on. How does he get to $65 million? The District's consumer protection law provides for damages of $1,500 per violation per day. Pearson started multiplying: 12 violations over 1,200 days, times three defendants. A pant leg here, a pant leg there, and soon, you're talking $65 million.

The case, set for trial in June, is on its second judge. The Chungs have removed the signs upon which Pearson's case rests.

"This case shocks me on a daily basis," Manning says. "Pearson has a lot of time on his hands, and the Chungs have been abused in a ghastly way. It's going to cost them tens of thousands to defend this case."

A judge in the case has admonished Pearson about his take-no-prisoners tactics. When Pearson sought to broaden the case to try to prove violations of consumer protection laws on behalf of all District residents, D.C. Superior Court Judge Neal Kravitz said that "the court has significant concerns that the plaintiff is acting in bad faith" because of "the breathtaking magnitude of the expansion he seeks."

Pearson has put the Chungs and their attorneys to work answering long lists of questions, such as this: "Please identify by name, full address and telephone number, all cleaners known to you on May 1, 2005 in the District of Columbia, the United States and the world that advertise 'SATISFACTION GUARANTEED.' "

In the world.

The answer: "None."

In a closet of a lawyer's office in downtown Washington, there is a pair of gray wool pants, waiting to be picked up by Roy Pearson.

"We believe the pants are his," Manning says. "The tag matches his receipt."

Now, I'm not a lawyer hater. I think people who complain about their own lawyers should choose more wisely in the future. My own lawyer is my lawyer because she's not only smart as hell, but always on moral high ground, which I believe gives me and her other clients an edge.

But, there are those who are just, well, anti-life, in the way they practice law. How many hours of time has this guy sucked out of these cleaners who, if they're like Korean business people I've known, are very hardworking, and maybe relatively recent immigrants who've made it in America in a relatively short time?

Now, maybe they're big old jerks. It's possible. Maybe they screw over all their customers. That's possible, too. But, even if they purposely took his pants outside, laid them in traffic, let them get good and wrecked, and then tossed them in a passing dump truck...$65 million?

For lawyers like this guy, clogging up the legal system and life with this crap, there's this joke in the comments over at the Washington Post link:

Q: What is black and brown and looks good on a lawyer? A: A Doberman.

As for the $65 million sum, I later came upon this comment from "P.A." over at Overlawyered:

For $65million, my dry cleaners can publicly burn my suit while calling me a baby rapist.

via Consumerist

Posted by aalkon at April 29, 2007 11:36 AM

Comments

That judge is the scum of the earth; probably worse than some of the people he's sentenced to jail. The SOB needs to be disbarred and tossed in a cell for a few months. The criminal justice system at all levels in this country is rotting from the inside out. This kind of behaviour can't be tolerated.

Posted by: Bill Henry at April 29, 2007 2:42 AM

My lawyer had a client who worked making custom furniture. He was an immigrant, living here in the states for some 20 odd years. A decorator made a request for very expensive furniture. She did not like the results despite the fact that it was made exactly to her measurements (this was documented). It was re-made, she took the furniture and then stopped payment. This shit happenens all the time. She refused to return the furniture too. If it wasnt such an expensive job, in the thousands, this man would have not bothered to tell anyone.

"Q: What is black and brown and looks good on a lawyer? A: A Doberman."

This has nothing to do with the post. But can someone explain to me why docking is illegal in so many countries? I have been thinking of getting a docked dog.

Posted by: PurplePen at April 29, 2007 2:47 AM

Oh I discovered he would not have bothered to tell anyone because I went to his shop. I looked at his documantation and found out that this happened to him all the time, only the furniture was less expensive so he did not bother to do anything about it.

Posted by: PurplePen at April 29, 2007 2:54 AM

As far as our judicial system goes, my understand (correct me please if you are more informed) is that all the douche-bags that took a test 30 years ago before it was decided the test needed to be removed and remade, are our judges because the test has not been issued since and no one has fashioned a new one.

As for docking tails PP, the idea of docking founded in that docked tails create a faster dog. Which is untrue. Many countries now realize that a dog with a tail can herd a sheep just as fast as one without and prefer to reduce unnecessary cruelty to animals. The question of how much it hurts the dog..No one could tell you, it depends on the age its done at and in the states I believe there are rules about the age it can be performed at. If you're against hurting your dog, but want a breed with docked tails many breeders will keep one undocked if you pay ahead. If you've got a dog picked out with a docked tail..Well, so what? It does not make a better or a worse dog :) Good luck.

Posted by: Edi at April 29, 2007 3:17 AM

Thanks Edi. I got Pointer from the pound recently and my 11 year old cat bullies him into submission. I love the dog but I was thinking of getting a more powerful breed from a good breeder but was unsure about the docking.

Posted by: PurplePen at April 29, 2007 3:42 AM

You know why, out of all the states in the Union, New Jersey has the most toxic waste dumps and California has the most lawyers?

New Jersey got first pick.

Posted by: Patrick at April 29, 2007 6:05 AM

Edi, do you have more information about the test they took? Does anybody?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 29, 2007 7:51 AM

Wow. Some people really suck.

Posted by: justin case at April 29, 2007 1:00 PM

Personal Injury lawyers that advertise on TV should be shot. Especially the ones that make up class-action suits designed to line their own pockets and crush industries.

On the docking bit: at least with Doberman Pinschers the cropping of the ears and docking of the tail were done to make it harder to hurt the dog, as they were bred as personal protection dogs. If you take away the ability to grab the ears and tail, you make a more effective dog.

Of course, My dobie is a couch potato, so I don't know that cropping and docking is terribly useful. But it is what makes a dobie look like a dobie.

Posted by: brian at April 30, 2007 5:09 AM

Wasn't it Will Shakespeare who said "First, we kill all the lawyers?" Or something to that affect. Of the entire population, I think most of the people out there with seriously unjustified senses of entitlement are lawyers! :)

On docking: Ears, I never thought it was a good idea. Wouldn't a dog be more prone to getting ear mites if its ears are docked? As for docking tails, six of one, half dozen of the other, I guess. I thought it was done for cosmetic purposes. I don't see that it makes any sense, but if it's already done...

Posted by: Flynne at April 30, 2007 5:56 AM

This suit by Roy Pearson has gone way too far. He should not be a judge. This suit shows one of the problems with our legal system that someone could manipulate the system and any sense of fairness for their selfish meanspirited and misguided attempt to make innocent people victims of such a petty mistake. At the very least he should be made to pay all of the legal fees for the drycleansers.

Posted by: Bill Meade at May 3, 2007 5:56 AM

email him at roypearsonjr@verizon.net and let him know how you feel about his trivial lawsuit.

Posted by: Vicki at May 3, 2007 9:23 AM

I urge all concerned citizens to write Mayor Fenty to voice your concerns about Judge Roy Pearson. There needs to be a clear message sent to him about public servants abusing positions of power. Here is the link:

http://dc.gov/mayor/index.shtm

Posted by: Mina at May 3, 2007 2:20 PM

This is just another abusive person how sits in a position of power who miss uses the system. Why are the courts wasting time on such stupidity? They should disbar him and put his suit, both of them where the sun will not shine

Posted by: PRusso at May 3, 2007 2:55 PM

It truely amazes me how evil people are. I am not the smartest person on the earth but my gosh how much money do you actually need to survive. I have two sons an dmy goal in life is to raise them to be the exact oppisite of this judge and to be morely correct. Really sorry that the poor littel judgy wudgy could not get his paints on time. How about you understand how it is on the other side and that most of us are just trying to keep our heads above water. Pathic soal!

Posted by: Heather Bennett at May 3, 2007 3:12 PM

You can contact him:
Pearson, Roy L Jr
3012 Pineview Ct NE
Washington, DC 20018-1617

Or leave a message on his answering machine (he doesn't answer his phone directly anymore): (202) 269-1191

Or send him an email: roypearsonjr@verizon.net

Posted by: Nicole at May 3, 2007 3:44 PM

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