Lawyer's Price For Missing Pants: $65 Million

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
By Marc Fisher
Thursday, April 26, 2007

When the neighborhood dry cleaner misplaced Roy Pearson's pants, he took action. He complained. He demanded compensation. And then he sued. Man, did he sue.

Two years, thousands of pages of legal documents and many hundreds of hours of investigative work later, Pearson is seeking to make Custom Cleaners pay -- would you believe more than the payroll of the entire Washington Nationals roster?

He says he deserves millions for the damages he suffered by not getting his pants back, for his litigation costs, for "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort," for the value of the time he has spent on the lawsuit, for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years and for a replacement suit, according to court papers.

Pearson is demanding $65,462,500. The original alteration work on the pants cost $10.50.

By the way, Pearson is a lawyer. Okay, you probably figured that. But get this: He's a judge, too -- an administrative law judge for the District of Columbia.

I'm telling you, they need to start selling tickets down at the courthouse.

Oh, where to start: How about the car? Why should Ki, Jin and Soo Chung -- the family that owns Custom Cleaners on Bladensburg Road NE in the District's Fort Lincoln section -- pay Pearson $15,000 so he can rent a car every weekend for 10 years?

The plaintiff, who says he has devoted more than 1,000 hours to represent himself in this battle, says that as a result of poor service at Custom, he must find another cleaner. And because Pearson does not own a car, he says he will have to rent one to get his clothes taken care of.

Back to the beginning. In 2002, Custom lost a pair of pants that Pearson had put in for cleaning. One week after the error was discovered, Custom gave Pearson a check for $150 for new pants. A few days later, the Chungs, Korean immigrants who live in Virginia and own three D.C. cleaners, told Pearson that he was no longer welcome at their store. That dispute was eventually put aside, and Pearson continued to use the company.

Move ahead to 2005, when Pearson got a new job as a judge. He needed to wear a suit to work every day. He dug out his five Hickey Freeman suits and found them to be "uncomfortably tight." He asked Custom to let the waists out two or three inches. Worried that he might be up against his Visa card limit, he took the suits in for alterations one or two at a time.

According to a statement filed by both parties in the lawsuit, Pearson dropped off one pair of pants May 3 so he could wear them to his new job May 6. But on May 5, the pants weren't ready. Soo Chung promised them for early the next morning, but when Pearson arrived, the pants weren't there.

At this point, I should let you in on the subject of hundreds of pages of legal wrangling. Custom Cleaners at that time had two big signs on its walls. One said "Satisfaction Guaranteed," and the other said, "Same Day Service."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company

Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity