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 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 today, 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.
Pearson said in the suit, filed federal district court in Washington, that the failure to reappoint him to a ten-year term of service as an administrative law judge violated constitutional and statutory rights. Pearson said he has a right to complain about alleged supervisory misconduct. He said he has a right to file suit without the fear of retaliation. A commission declined to reappoint Pearson in October 2007.
Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle explores Pearson’s saga in a 37-page opinion (.pdf) published in July.
Huvelle dismissed Pearson’s argument that he was retaliated against for his lawsuit against the dry cleaners. To show protected speech, Huvelle wrote, Pearson’s suit must address a matter of public concern. “A review of the nature of, and motivation behind, plaintiff’s lawsuit demonstrates that plaintiff was not on a mission to protect the public welfare,” Huvelle wrote.
Pearson’s complaint related claims only about himself and sought relief for himself only. “His lawsuit was, in the words of the superior court judge, ‘a one-victim case involving a single pair of lost suit pants,’” Huvelle wrote.
“The mere fact that plaintiff characterizes his status as that of a private attorney general does not alter the general nature of his lawsuit, which more properly should be characterized as a personal vendetta against a dry cleaners over a pair of pants,” the judge said in her opinion. The D.C. Court of Appeals in December upheld a jury's verdict against Pearson.
There’s no guarantee that the D.C. Circuit will hear oral argument in the case.