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 Chungs have since sold Custom Cleaners in Northeast, citing the stress and revenue loss associated with the suit against them, and now run Happy Cleaners in northwest Washington on 7th Street.
Christopher Manning, a name partner at Manning Sossamon representing the Chungs, says he was not surprised that Pearson appealed the trial court’s ruling, citing what he called Pearson’s “unrelenting” approach to the case.
“We absolutely expected this. Immediately after the verdict, my clients withdrew their motion to have their legal fees repaid by Pearson as an olive branch to him and so they could move on with their lives. He filed the appeal anyway,” Manning says.
Manning says he will represent the Chungs pro bono during the appeal.
Manning says he hopes this case will prompt city officials to revise the consumer protection law to keep similar cases from being filed in the future.In a separate lawsuit, Pearson has accused the District government of breaking the law when it decided not to reappoint him last year to a 10-year term as an administrative law judge. That position pays $100,000 a year.
Pearson did not immediately return calls to his home for comment.