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No Pay for Lost Pants
June 25, 2007 10:50 AM   Subscribe

A very big day for the District of Columbia Superior Court. In Pearson v. Soo Chung (pdf of opinion), Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled that Custom Cleaners is not liable to Roy L. Pearson for "various calculations of damages that go as high as $67 million" over "a pair of allegedly missing pants." The other shoe is yet to drop. Judge Bartnoff ruled that Pearson must pay the defendants' court costs and will consider forcing Pearson to pay the defendants' attorneys' fees. ( previously.)
posted by Slap Factory (55 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
It really sucks that frivolous lawsuits like this don't get thrown out more often. I'm glad to see that Judge Bartnoff knows how to call a spade a spade.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:57 AM on June 25, 2007


Actually, frivolous lawsuits are thrown out all the time, or at least they die well before they go to trial. We just don't hear about the cases that die because they aren't very exciting news. It would be like reporting that today a nuclear power plant produced energy - boring - but if the reactor explodes HOT DAMN you have a story.

It will be interesting to see if those that went about ranting that the justice system is a terrible, broken institution come back and give credit to the system for working in this case.
posted by Muddler at 11:00 AM on June 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Frivolous lawsuits do get thrown out all the time. The vast majority of the "OMG JURIES PAY OUT ON FRIVOLOUS LAWSUIT" stories floating around are fabrications made up by tort reformists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:04 AM on June 25, 2007


Good for Judge Bartnoff.

A full report from the WashPost mentions that he might lose his job over this incident. After all, a judge should probably have the intelligence/sanity/sense of proportion to recognize a frivolous law suit.
posted by zarq at 11:06 AM on June 25, 2007


If I were Judge Pearson, I would have tried to get the cleaners charged with obstruction of justice, on the grounds that "those are my judgin' pants!"
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:10 AM on June 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


I love that I can refer to Judge Bartnoff as Judge Judy... in my own mind. As much as I want to hate Pearson, I feel so sorry for him. Not for losing, but for being so deluded to the point of aggression.
posted by spec80 at 11:11 AM on June 25, 2007


Pearson really seems like he might have... problems. A judge really ought to know better than to sue someone for millions over a pair of pants. I hope he gets the help he apparently needs.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:14 AM on June 25, 2007


It really sucks that frivolous lawsuits like this don't get thrown out more often.

Frivolous lawsuits like this are thrown out all the time. You never hear about them because they're thrown out, just like you don't hear reports on the news about the millions of pretty white girls who make it home safely every afternoon.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:14 AM on June 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


This idiot should be removed from the bench if only for the stupidity implied by his taking his $67 million pants to a dry cleaner that only charges $10.50.
posted by DU at 11:17 AM on June 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


removed from the bench? ... he should be disbarred for abusing the legal system like this
posted by pyramid termite at 11:21 AM on June 25, 2007


The vast majority of the "OMG JURIES PAY OUT ON FRIVOLOUS LAWSUIT" stories floating around are fabrications made up by tort reformists.

Citation, please. I'll buy the majority are reduced on appeal, but fabricated-- I'm going to ask for exculpatory evidence.
posted by yerfatma at 11:21 AM on June 25, 2007


Frivolous lawsuits like this are thrown out all the time

Thanks -- consider me enlightened on the issue. I'm glad this one was thrown out too.
posted by rolypolyman at 11:28 AM on June 25, 2007


I am so-o-o-o disappointed. I figured if he cashed in that much for a mere pair of pants, I might have been able to break into billionaire status over an airline's loss of my whole friggen suitcase.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:31 AM on June 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Now if only Custom Cleaners would lose Scalia's pants...
posted by oncogenesis at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


More: The Chungs also put together a fund-raising website to help defray legal fees. (Looks like that was previously here.)

Their lawyers, Manning & Sossamon, have a "FAQ" about the case.

The Angry Asian Man blog has the text of the law firm's press release.
posted by zarq at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2007


Snopes debunks some fabrications: http://www.snopes.com/legal/lawsuits.asp
There are tons more.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:52 AM on June 25, 2007


Oh, what the hell. As long as I'm here:

Chances are your pants are not as fancy as the pair
Of very fancy pants that Mr. Fancy Pants will wear
When everybody’s marching in the fancy pants parade
He’s gonna pass the test
He’s gonna be the best
The best in terms of pants

You look in every catalog you shop at every store
Cause even though you have a hundred pants you want some more
When suddenly you see the greatest pants you’ve ever seen
And even though you know
It’s gonna cost a lot of dough
You have to have the world’s best pants

Say a little prayer for Mr. Fancy Pants
The whole world knows
They’re only clothes
And deep inside
He’s sad

They make the big announcement and the trophy goes to you
You thought you had some fancy pants and now you know it’s true
You look at Mr. Fancy Pants and hold the trophy high
Everybody cheers
While he’s blinking back the tears
He doesn’t even have the best pants

Say a little prayer for Mr. Fancy Pants
It’s all he had
But don’t feel bad
He’d do the same
To you


--Jonathan Coulton, "Mr. Fancy Pants"
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:54 AM on June 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


The irony is that if he'd sued in small claims court for the amount of the suit, he might have won. Tacking on all those other charges, and making a "federal case" out of it probably resulted in much more scrutiny being paid.

Now the real Irony is Robert Bork suing the Yale Club for several million dollars after falling, when he's the guy who was a major proponent of 'tort reform'.
posted by delmoi at 11:56 AM on June 25, 2007


I'm more concerned with practical matters: How does Pearson show up at the country club or office Christmas party? Do other judges stand across the room and whisper about him? Is it as amazingly awkward in reality as it is in my mind?
posted by Adam_S at 12:01 PM on June 25, 2007


Denny Crane.
posted by srboisvert at 12:13 PM on June 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Among his requests are $500,000 in attorney's fees, $2 million for "discomfort, inconvenience, and mental distress", and $15,000, which he claims would be the cost to rent a car every weekend to drive to another dry cleaning service. The remaining $51.5 million would be used to help similarly dissatisfied D.C. consumers sue businesses

interesting list, how big of him that 51.5 million would be to help others.

On June 12, 2007, the trial began and Pearson broke down in tears during an explanation about his frustration after losing his pants


if this guy is that mentally unstable he needs to be kicked to the curb.
posted by andywolf at 12:14 PM on June 25, 2007


The irony is that if he'd sued in small claims court for the amount of the suit, he might have won.

according to what i read the cleaners offered to settle for 12,000 and that wasn't enough for him.
posted by andywolf at 12:18 PM on June 25, 2007


"...how to call a spade a spade."

Ouch; not my favorite choice of words in this instance.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:50 PM on June 25, 2007


So he's still a crazy asshole and he didn't even get a pair of pants out of it. The system works!
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:53 PM on June 25, 2007


Ouch; not my favorite choice of words in this instance.

It's not a slur.
posted by bshort at 12:59 PM on June 25, 2007


Pantsless Pearson loses shirt in lawsuit.
posted by zippy at 1:09 PM on June 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm going to ask for exculpatory evidence

Wow, I know disputes in the blue can get heated, but we're treating commenters as criminal defendants now? :)
posted by Falconetti at 1:32 PM on June 25, 2007


Pantsless Pearson loses shirt in lawsuit.

Judge loses shirt in pantsuit.
posted by The World Famous at 1:35 PM on June 25, 2007


I hope he loses his job and has to pay the legal fees to the defendants. Losing his law license would be fine too. He's not fit to judge or practice law. What an ass.
posted by caddis at 2:02 PM on June 25, 2007


Those are the pants Judge Pearson dances in to Louis Prima.

“ “Nice Pants” ”
posted by Smedleyman at 2:18 PM on June 25, 2007


Now if only Custom Cleaners would lose Scalia's pants...

This could never happen. Scalia never wears pants.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:22 PM on June 25, 2007


Does this suit make his ass look big?
posted by mazola at 2:27 PM on June 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I believe California now has a law whereby if you bring too many frivolous lawsuits, you can be declared a "vexatious litigant" by the court, which makes it just about impossible to sue therafter. Me, I just love saying the phrase vexatious litigant. I love the way it rolls off the tongue.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:33 PM on June 25, 2007


I'm glad to see that Judge Bartnoff knows how to call a spade a spade.

As it turns out, "call a spade a spade" is actually a racial slur. I, myself, didn't know this until a few years ago. I don't really know where I picked up the phrase in the first place - probably from my parents.

I'm not correcting you because I'm anally-retentive prig; I'm hoping prevent you from having to find out on your own, as I'm assuming that you're not a racist.

(end of derail)
posted by Afroblanco at 2:48 PM on June 25, 2007


Afroblanco, it is not a racial slur, as bshort already pointed out in this very thread. Please follow along.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:59 PM on June 25, 2007


Huh. Learn something new every day. All apologies.

(still, I won't be using that phrase any time soon)
posted by Afroblanco at 3:03 PM on June 25, 2007


Alas, there were no winners in Judge Bartnoff's courtroom today.

Mr. Pearson, the obvious loser, is without his pants and without satisfaction - and may soon be out a good deal of money and a job as well.

The Chungs, even if their legals fees are covered, have gone through months of stress and anguish - not to mention bad publicity for their business. I imagine this has not been good for their physical or emotional health

Judge Bartnoff's judging skills could, no doubt, have been used in a more meaningful trial. She has lost a week of her professional career trying this case and - alas - it will probably end up being the case she is best known for.

Proponents of Tort Reform don't have a useful piece of propoganda to dredge up, since in this instance the legal system worked exactly right.

Opponents of Tort Reform will have to listen to people talk about "how that guy won $75 million dollars because some cleaners lost his pants" for the rest of their life, and no amount of Snopes citations or proof to the contrary will convince some of them that that isn't how it went down.

The lawyers for the Chungs may have won the case, but their profession has been made to look bad by Mr. Pearson as a result of this case, which will result in more badwill towards lawyers.

Even the pants, which were lost but now are found, probably won't be returning to their proper home. I see a lonely future for them at Goodwill.

No, even though justice prevailed, it is still a somber day for American jurisprudence.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:09 PM on June 25, 2007


excuse the derail, but from bshort's link

It derives from an ancient Greek expression

and if you read further

"Spade" in the sense of "Negro" is not recorded until 1928. (It comes from the colour of the playing card symbol, via the phrase "black as the ace of spades".)

"The expression is associated with a racial slur and is to be avoided"

i guess i'm under the impression that words change with time. fag, gay, mulatto, cunt, republican or whatever, all meant something different over time. just cause it comes from greek doesn't mean it trumps the 20th century definition.
posted by andywolf at 4:12 PM on June 25, 2007


So what about people appearing in his court prior to this finding.It doesn't sound like a sane judge presided over their cases.
posted by notreally at 4:19 PM on June 25, 2007


“Mr. Pearson, the obvious loser, is without his pants and without satisfaction - and may soon be out a good deal of money and a job as well.”

Indeed. Rarely is a man without pants (and some kind of job) a man without satisfaction although he may be without money.

/aren’t ‘fags’ a british slang term for cigarettes?
posted by Smedleyman at 4:27 PM on June 25, 2007


Can't we just call a shovel a shovel?
posted by The World Famous at 4:46 PM on June 25, 2007


One might even argue that in trying to find his pants, he lost his pants.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:47 PM on June 25, 2007


Is "spade" really not a term for a shovel in the US? Weird. Is anything actually utterable anymore?
posted by blacklite at 4:55 PM on June 25, 2007


Spade is a term for shovel in the U.S.

Everything is utterable, unless you're in the company of morons.
posted by The World Famous at 5:02 PM on June 25, 2007


Just because an expression may not have a racist etymology, does not mean that people won't think you a racist for using it.
posted by caddis at 5:21 PM on June 25, 2007


like "niggardly"?
posted by claudius at 6:04 PM on June 25, 2007


yes, like "niggardly." you can use that here without fear as the crowd is educated. I would be cautious in other situations. yes, you may be in the right technically, but does it really matter if the crowd refuses to buy you explanation and just thinks you are some sort of white power scum?
posted by caddis at 6:11 PM on June 25, 2007


delmois, re the Bork thing, I guess that means that a liberal is a conservative that's slipped on a banana peel and decided to sue.

This is the real case that should be in the news. It's getting a lot of play in the blawgs, where it is roundly trounced. According to Bloomberg:

"Proposals, such as placing limits or caps on punitive damages, or eliminating joint or strict liability, which may once have been clearly understood as beyond Congress's power, may now be constitutionally appropriate,' Bork and a co-author wrote in an article that discussed Congress's power to regulate commerce.

In a 1995 opinion piece published in the Washington Times, Bork and Theodore Olson, who later became a top Justice Department official, criticized what they called the ``expensive, capricious and unpredictable' civil justice system in the U.S.

``Today's merchant enters the marketplace with trepidation -- anticipating from the civil justice system the treatment that his ancestors experienced with the Barbary pirates,' they wrote.

posted by madamjujujive at 6:38 PM on June 25, 2007


srboisvert: well said! It is a case straight out of Boston Legal.
posted by e40 at 8:13 PM on June 25, 2007


yeah ... i can just imagine charles goren bidding four shovels
posted by pyramid termite at 1:35 AM on June 26, 2007


according to what i read the cleaners offered to settle for 12,000 and that wasn't enough for him.

Yeah, I read that too. $12,000 to settle about a pair of f'ing pants. Makes me want to start bringing all my pants there day after day, until they misplace a pair. Easy $12,000, right?
posted by inigo2 at 6:21 AM on June 26, 2007


I love that there are a bunch of people in this thread, commenting on what offends a group of people who may or may not exist, and to which they do not belong.
Beware, behalf-ies! Beware the writer who sets himself or herself up as the voice of a nation. This includes nations of race, gender, sexual orientation, elective affinities...The New Behalfism replaces literary values by political ones.

—Salman Rushdie, Index on Censorship
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:16 AM on June 26, 2007


“but does it really matter if the crowd refuses to buy you explanation and just thinks you are some sort of white power scum?”

Heard any ‘white power’ folks talk? Damn funny. (Both ‘ha ha’ and weird) Not only the bizarre fantasy stuff (typically Odin-centric, hanging, gory combat, etc) but the term itself: ‘white power’ is a verb, noun, exclamation, adjective and affirmation.
Sort of like “fuck” amongst young servicemen. Should be fairly easy to discern people searching/utilizing the proper turn of phrase vs. the specious reasoning that is so blatent among real racists.
Although some buddies of mine and I have been using “white power” as an ironic explicative. We were watching a race a bit ago (not my taste really, but I like excuses to drink beer) and someone crashed and one of my buddies said (murmuring, yet strongly affirming): “white power.”
Broke us all up.
Since then pretty much every serious error has been followed by the “white power” affirmation (I bashed my finger putting in a floor in the car-hole (garage to you fancy-pants) and my wife shouted it triumphantly at me. The rhythm of it alone was hilarious BAM! “Ahh! MFer!” “White power!”)

I suspect the nature of insult in a term is intimately related (in part, there are other variables) to the earnestness of the target and the strength of the connection to reality the target has.
F’rinstance, “black power” those using the term (black panthers, et.al) were in earnest, bit naive perhaps in retrospect (everyone was really) but connected to reality for the most part (although ‘conspiracy brother’ was lampooned in the movie ‘Undercover Brother’ you couldn’t have done that in the 70s).
“White power” by contrast, not so much. They’re not in earnest, indeed, their hypocrisy is transparent, ergo - they’re funny.

Which is also why people get such a kick out of this whole pants thing. Plus people like saying ‘pants’ as connected to ‘judge’ (or ‘shrimp’ or ‘plate of shrimp’ - but I digress)
posted by Smedleyman at 8:34 AM on June 26, 2007



Even the pants, which were lost but now are found, probably won't be returning to their proper home. I see a lonely future for them at Goodwill.

Why not E-bay? That should defray a part of their costs.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 11:50 AM on June 26, 2007


Current bid: $12,000 (reserve not met)
posted by ryanrs at 4:44 AM on June 27, 2007


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