Claim for $65 Million for Roy Pearson’s Lost Pants

[EDITOR’S UPDATE: There is a verdict: click here for blog on the good news of a VERDICT in Pearson v. Chang.]

Pearson v. Chang was the McDonald case of the last decade

Pearson v. Chang was the McDonald case of the last decade

If Roy Pearson did not exist, advocates of tort reform would invent him. Mr. Pearson is a lawyer – an administrative law judge actually – who brought a lawsuit against his neighborhood dry cleaner when they misplaced his pants. Two years, over 1000 hours of Mr. Pearson’s time, thousands of pages of legal pleadings and discovery later, Pearson continues his battle against the dry cleaner. His complaint seeks $65,462,500 from the dry cleaner, including compensation for such things as “mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort,” for the value of the time he has spent on the lawsuit, and, my favorite, for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years because there is no dry cleaner close to his house. If you didn’t get that the first time, this is over a single misplaced pair of pants.

The Insanity of the Claims

How did Pearson arrive at this number?  He sought $500,000 in lawyer’s fees, $2 million for pain and suffering and $15,000 because he needed to rent a car to go to another dry cleaner.  I’m tempted to respond to these damages but you really can’t fight crazy.  What about the remaining $50 million?  That was a part of his class action on behalf of lost pants sufferers from this dry cleaner everywhere. The dry cleaner denied the plaintiff’s allegations, insisting that the pants they gave him are the same pants he brought in to be altered.  But let’s face it.  It is an incredible hassle to be sued with insurance.  So the the dry cleaner has offered $12,000 to settle the case. But Pearson pluged forward seeking a big pay day for his lost pants.

How This Case Turned Out

People don’t understand this but it is not that amazing that this case got filed.  We have 312 million people in this country and nearly a million lawyers.  Some crazy things are going to happen.  But even when the case became public, you would think friends and family and his own conscious would intervene.  Judge Pearson (was he ever called that?) kept plugging ahead with full steam. Ultimately, the system works, at least a little.  District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruling in favor of the dry cleaners.  Naturally, Pearson appealed and appealed but ultimately got no where.  

The Impact of this Case on Tort Reform

Why do I say that tort reform advocates would invent Pearson? This is a consumer claim not a personal injury claim. But, believe me, personal injury lawyers face the consequences of this kind of nonsense every single time we pick a jury. This makes jurors more skeptical of people bringing claims of any kind, including accident and medical malpractice cases. Personal injury victims deserve a jury who is willing to evaluate a case with no preconceived notions. The publicity generated by this kind of case makes getting that fair jury more difficult.

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  • Sam Hollender

    So depressing!

  • What’s particularly troublesome is that this guy is not only a lawyer but some kind of administrative law judge. Hopefully when he comes up for review with that body they will take a serious look at his actions.

  • Larry

    Crazy. Apparently, Roy Pearson loves litigation on just about every level. Check out this article on his wife’s divorce!

  • Wayne Simmons

    You are absolutely right. It does reflect on not only trial lawyers but lawyers generally.

  • jon

    Is there a case for the dry cleaner to countersuit for “terror and threat” that caused mental anguish etc?

  • RB

    I disagree. advocates would not recreate such a ridiculous case. this case has been brought up because of one man’s dejection of (the simplest) common sense.

    even a jury would immediately feel the same way, regardless if they were exposed to the public’s reaction.

    if you still (truly) believe your first claim, then why don’t you start a 90 million case against an anonymous dry cleaners?

  • Ron Miller

    Response to two comments: Jon’s – the short answer to the “threat and terror” question is not really. Because he may have a technical claim, I think he would be safe from any malicious prosecution case although he is clearly abusing the process.

    RB’s – This comment I really do not understand. First, obviously when someone says that if someone did not exist, advocates would make this person up, that is not meant to be taken literally. The last question I really don’t understand. I am not a tort reform advocate, so I would not make such a person up, of course. I would not file such a claim because I think it is a ridiculous claim that makes all lawyers look bad.

    In many ways, the right to file a lawsuit is like free speech. You can file pretty much any claim you want that has some foundation in fact even if reasonable people would find it inane.

  • ChungDefense

    Update: $67 Million Dry Cleaning Case
    On May 31, 2007, D.C. Administrative Law Judge, Roy L. Pearson, filed a Pre-Trial Brief in the Pearson v. Chung dry cleaner case. In the brief, Pearson shifts the focus of his claims from his allegedly lost pants to claims related to signage in the Chungs’ store. One sign reads “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and another reads “Same Day Service.” Pearson claims the signs are somehow misleading and apparently continues to seek over $54,000,000 in damages from the Chungs. Pearson had previously sought $67,000,000 in compensation from the Chungs.

    Christopher Manning, of the law firm Manning & Sossamon in Washington D.C., represents the Chungs and made the following statement in response to Pearson’s recent actions:

    “Although it is always encouraging to see claims withdrawn, it is simply baffling that Mr. Pearson continues to assert that he is entitled to tens of millions of dollars as a result of two completely harmless, completely straight-forward signs. Mr. Pearson’s claims are not founded in common sense and are extraordinarily abusive towards the Chungs. As a result, the Chungs’ terrible ordeal continues. The Chungs’ decision to move to and build a business in America began with the classic American dream. Mr. Pearson has turned that dream into an American nightmare.”

    Mr. Pearson’s lawsuit has cost the Chungs tens of thousands of dollars in defense costs. Donations to a defense fund set up by the Chungs may be made at

    This case will be tried in courtroom 415 of the District of Columbia Superior Courthouse on June 11th and 12th beginning at 9:30am each day.

    All questions regarding the matter should be directed to the office of Manning & Sossamon at:

    Manning & Sossamon PLLC
    1532 Sixteenth Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20036
    (202) 387-2228 (voice)

    (202) 387-2229 (fax)

  • kh

    I think this case is a complete mess. I can honestly say that this man has made a joke of the legal system and people who are trying to be ethical legal workers. I feel bad for the family he is taking through this situation. He should be disbarred and never allowed to practice law again. Once the jury decides that he should not be awarded any money, they should make him pay the legal fees of this family and pay millions of dollars for their pain and suffering. Please, to get up in the court room and shed tears (as reported on t.v. today) over a pair of slacks is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. He should be on t.v. practicing law with the dramtics instead of a real courtroom.

  • ChaChing!

    If this judge is allowed to keep his robes, think about how many people are going to be suing over such trite affairs in his district…Pearson has already proven his disposition toward “satisfaction guaranteed” and will rule for the plantiff. Wow, it might even be worth me moving to his district so that I get a chance to legally sue somebody for a paultry 1 million dollars. hmmm.

  • Ron Miller

    Whoa. Hold up there. Heck, this guy might have a technical claim but are his damages? My guess is nothing or very little. Certainly not enough to justify the effort of filing the case. Just wait and see, I’ll bet this case ends the right way…

  • Jacob Chen

    The only compensation Pearson should get is a trip to the psychiatrist’s. Perhaps “Fraser” will relieve his a**hole habit and reinject some real sense of comedy back into his clown-like existence. I’m sure He will get a show in Hollywood, where freaks usually get the nod.

    Jacob Chen
    University of Toronto

  • adeola

    It is very absurd and unreasonable for an American judge to toe a line like that. He is seen as a man that represent legal American in all ramification. I see know sense in what i call a “show of shame”. If a man that reperesent the legal law in this country can act like that, how many similar cases would he have in the past tried wrongly. People get discouraged by singular act of people like this in our society, who choose to use their power to victimize their fellow American citizens.

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