Unseemly Pants Suit Ends With Dry Cleaner Closing Shop
You can’t say the now world-famous Washington D.C. administrative law judge took his local dry cleaners to the cleaners, because the man many in the media clearly suggested was a sew-and-sew didn’t win his case.
He lost the battle.
But he won the war:
Roy Pearson, the D.C. administrative law judge whose $67 million lawsuit against his neighborhood dry cleaners turned into a worldwide lesson in how one obsessed person can hijack the American legal system, lost his case in court, but today delivered the crowning blow to the owners of Custom Cleaners:
Bowing to the emotional and financial strains of two years of litigation, Soo and Jin Chung today announced the closing of the dry cleaners that may or may not have lost a pair of Pearson’s pants that he put in for a $10 alteration in 2005.
“They were just tired of the whole ordeal,” the Chungs’ daughter-in-law, Soo Choi, told me today. “A lot of people view this comically because the case is so outrageous, but my mother-in-law has gone down four dress sizes from this whole ordeal. They just want to put this in their past.”
In addition to the heavy emotional toll, the lawsuit proved to be a big drag on revenues at Custom Cleaners, located on Bladensburg Road NE. When Pearson first started gathering material for his aggressive legal battle, he posted fliers on light poles all around the Fort Lincoln neighborhood, asking residents if they had been ripped off by Custom and announcing his own displeasure with the service there. Business declined significantly after that and never rebounded, said Choi and the Chungs’ lawyer, Christopher Manning.
Clearly Pearson wanted to get a rise out of the cleaners’ due to his allegedly lost pants. (We wrote about the pants case before and there was a large thread in comments under it).
“You’d think the trial and all the publicity would have a good effect on business,” Manning said, “but for a dry cleaner, it really doesn’t, because your customers are from the immediate neighborhood.”
Public support for the Chungs did come in strong as news coverage of Pearson’s wild demands and the D.C. court’s failure to nip the case in the bud spread throughout the globe. Both the tort reform lobby and the trial lawyers association denounced Pearson’s abuse of the legal system–a rare case of cooperation between sworn enemies. And fundraisers for the Chungs collected enough money–more than $100,000–to cover the family’s legal bills.
But the store said the Chungs have had enough. They’re going back to work at their original shop Happy Cleaners because they didn’t enjoy working at a shop that should have been called Defendant Cleaners.
So Pearson pressing the pants case altered the Chungs’ life.
In the end, the person many perceived as “the bad guy” lost in court.
But “the bad guy” needled the dry cleaners via the justice system until they folded.