Judge Does Not Take the Legal System “to the Cleaners”

Today is not a day that will live in “legal infamy.” District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff dismissed the lawsuit brought on by Roy L. Pearson who sued his dry cleaners for $54 million for supposed consumer abuse for losing his suit pants and attempting to replace them with a different, cheaper pair that did not belong to him. The Court rejected Mr. Pearson’s lawsuit that strictly interpreted a dry cleaner’s promise of “Satisfaction Guaranteed.”

Mr. Pearson attempted to sue under a consumer law that imposes fines of $1,500 per violation, per day, as well as claiming damages for inconvenience, mental anguish and attorney’s fees. After being sued, the Chungs, the owners of the dry cleaners, offered to settle the case for up to $12,000, but this was insufficient for Pearson who decided that this was a case that needed to be litigated. Notably, he was emotional at trial as he cried on the stand and argued in his opening statement that “Never before in recorded history have a group of defendants engaged in such misleading and unfair business practices.” However, it seems the tears were not enough inasmuch as the Judge held that “A reasonable consumer would not interpret ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer’s unreasonable demands.”

The Judge also found that Mr. Pearson did not demonstrate that the pants returned to him were not the same pants that he had brought into the store. Surprisingly, Mr. Pearson is not a layperson, unfamiliar with the boundaries of our legal system, but in fact he is an administrative law judge.

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