More than three years after former administrative judge Roy Pearson filed his $67 million lawsuit against a family-owned cleaners, the D.C. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the case today.
Pearson's suit accuses now-defunct Custom Cleaners of losing a pair of pants he dropped off for dry cleaning. By allegedly losing the pants, Pearson contends, the store failed to live up to its "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign and thus violated D.C. consumer protection law.
Pearson, who argued on behalf of himself, told associate judges Noel Kramer and Phyllis Thompson and Senior Judge Michael Farrell that his lawsuit was meant to remove ambiguity as to the reach of satisfaction-guaranteed policies and that he was acting as a "private attorney general in the interest of but not on behalf of the public."
Pearson's case has drawn national criticism as an example of legal excess because of his method for calculating his losses. Pearson claims that the owners of Custom Cleaners, Soo and Jin Chung and their son, Ki Chung, each owe him $18,000 for each day the pants were missing over a nearly four-year period.
Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled against him last year, and the court of appeals set the case for argument last month.
On appeal, Christopher Manning, a name partner at Manning Sossamon representing the Chungs, argued that Pearson's reading of the store's satisfaction-guaranteed policy was not what a "reasonable interpretation would lead a person to understand the 'satisfaction guaranteed' sign to mean."
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Manning said the lawsuit has been a "nightmarish ordeal" for his clients and they look forward to putting it behind them. He added he expects the court to issue its ruling sometime in the next few months.
In a separate lawsuit, Pearson accuses 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.