Griffs Notes 5/3/07

First he was offered $3,000 then $4,600 – and even $12,000 to settle a case of missing pants from a dry cleaners, but now Judge Roy L. Pearson Jr, a District of Columbia Administrative Judge and attorney is demanding an outrageous $67 million dollars from a South Korean family-owned business… and this one is going to trial in June!

The case stems back to 2005 when Judge Pearson brought a pair of suit pants in to be altered. Pearson needed the pants on a specific day and when he returned for them, the Chung family dry cleaners had temporarily lost them.

Under the District’s Consumer Protection Act, Judge Pearson believes that since there was a “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign posted and he did not get the pants on time, then he is entitled to some compensation. In short, this civil suit amounts to a “false advertising” case according to a press release Pearson produced for the media.

At dispute in the case now is whether or not the pants the Chungs produced a week after losing Judge Pearson’s pants in 2005 – ARE in fact, his pants.

The Chungs allege that the tag on the pants that they recovered match the tag for Pearson’s order. The Chungs also identified a unique three belt-loop design that they recall noticing when Pearson originally brought the pants in for work. Pearson claims the pants are not his and maintains his original pair was lost. (They supposedly had "red and blue stripes.")

Judge Pearson plans to call some 63 witnesses at the trial and the case already is having a devastating impact on the family according to Chung Family attorney Chris Manning.

“They came here with the American Dream to start a small business and basically Judge Pearson has made it a nightmare,” Manning said.

How do you get to $67 million, you ask?

It’s a complicated calculation, but Manning says that Judge Pearson believes that over a period of 1200 days or more, the Chungs (3 defendants) have “committed a series of violations against him.” And that somehow ends at the ridiculous figure. It even includes renting a car for the next 10 years (Pearson does not drive or own a car) so that he can go to another dry cleaners.

Strangely, the Judge has gone into radio silence. Almost no one had even seen him… until yesterday. I waited for him to come home last night and pursued him with questioning to his front door – which was slammed in my face.

And there is an even greater injustice on the horizon we learned today: a District panel of officials is actually considering RE-APPOINTING Pearson to ANOTHER term before this even goes to trial in June. That is simply unconscionable if you ask me.

As for the Chung family who has already incurred legal costs in the tens of thousands, an uncertain future lies ahead. It will be a sad day in America if the family who came here for a better life in 1982 is forced to return home broke and disillusioned by one bad judge.

The reputation of the District Court system is on the line. And I hope Judge Pearson gets taken to the cleaners!

I can be reached for questions or comments at