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$67 Million Lawsuit Over a Pair of Pants:
Please tell me that this story is some sort of joke.
JonC:
It's no joke; Overlawyered has been covering it. And what's worse, the lawyer who filed the suit is a D.C. administrative law judge, with a 10-year term set to begin tomorrow.
5.1.2007 11:37pm
Truth Seeker:
This is why people hate lawyers. Someone should file a grievance against this guy for bringing ridicule and harm to the legal profession.
5.1.2007 11:40pm
Ella (www):
Two words - Grow. Up.

Or, if that's too simple, my father's favorite words of wisdom for me - "Sometimes, you're so right, you're wrong." (not that I think this guy, or the judges who have let it drag on, are right).
5.1.2007 11:43pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
This is why people hate lawyers. Someone should file a grievance against this guy for bringing ridicule and harm to the legal profession.
Should someone wish to do so:
http://www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/ethics/discipline/index.cfm
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Wallace E. Shipp, Jr.
Bar Counsel
District of Columbia Office of Bar Counsel
409 E Street, NW
Room 228B
Washington, DC 20001
5.1.2007 11:56pm
anon252 (mail):
Whatever judge is now in charge of this case should make the plaintiff pay all of the defendants' attorneys fee, plus. And their lawyer should countersue for whatever the civil equivalent is of malicious prosecution.
5.1.2007 11:57pm
Andrew Okun:
I'd have thought everyone here knew the rule. It just doesn't pay to get a judge angry. Something comes with the robes that makes them act like this.
5.2.2007 12:27am
George Weiss:
i think im going to cry
5.2.2007 12:27am
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Rule 11. That is all. Back to studying Civ Pro.
5.2.2007 12:33am
Paul McKaskle (mail):
I would think, at minimum, he would be subject to being disqualified for cause by any litigant appearing before him (in his job as an administrative law judge) on the basis that he has demonstrated no capacity whatsoever to judge anything fairly.

I would hope that he would also be disbarred, but I doubt the DC Bar would take such a drastic step. The rationalization: So he's a little crazy, but the bar shouldn't take a person's living away for such a mild indiscretion. And, of course, the authorities that appoint or supervise administrative law judges would be similarly weak-kneed.

It is a pity, and I do hope, first, he loses; second, that there is some basis in D.C. law for the judge to award huge costs against him (is there an equivalent of Rule 11?). And, finally, that he is hit with a whopping malicious prosecution suit.

It makes me ashamed to be a member of the legal profession. Alas, it is far from the only instance that creates my shame.
5.2.2007 12:40am
just my thoughts:
I was wondering, I haven't read what (if anything) the Dry Cleaners are asking for, but could some here speculate as to what they could get legally? Certainly they are going to come out of this with more then a judgement for legal fees??? (One would hope).

Here's a link to another article.

Lowering The Bar has been covering this as well, so far here and here.
5.2.2007 12:47am
just my thoughts:
Another question:

As a judge, assuming he's actually made decisions on other people's cases in the past, does this lawsuit of his call the reasonableness of his own past decisions into question?
5.2.2007 12:49am
anonVCfan:
Perhaps he's secretly a tort reformer and is falling on his sword in a sense to generate more interest in tort reform. This was my favorite part:

He's suing for ten years of weekend car rentals so he can transport his dry cleaning to another store.
5.2.2007 1:04am
PabloF:
This has been going on for 2 years?? Do any DC lawyers here have any thoughts as to why the case hasn't been dismissed, or at least drastically reduced, on a summary judgment motion?
5.2.2007 1:10am
Blue (mail):
A fellow judge will force this guy to pay defendants court costs?

I'll believe that when I see it.
5.2.2007 1:12am
Watzilaus Wondratschek (mail):
I think this judge will go far: He will gain notoriety like Judge Roy Bean....
5.2.2007 1:38am
A. Zarkov (mail):
The Chungs made a big mistake in making him an initial offer of $3,000. Like the Palestinians, the more you offer the more he wants because he is insane. This judge should be removed from the bench and sent to Creedmoor with his five Hickey Freeman suits replaced by a straight Jacket- no pleats. But I think there is a bright side to this whole affair. When the beautiful old Penn Station in New York City was torn down and replaced with a terminal more fitting for sewer rats, the city got sufficiently shocked to organize a preservation commission. Similarly this case demonstrates that the system is seriously broken as this case should have been dismissed immediately.
5.2.2007 1:40am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Rule 11. That is all.

Indeed.

One problem is that the system divides into tiers. Out of JP or small claims, into superior or district court. So long as the number claimed is above the jurisdictional amount, a person can claim any idiotic number they want, subject only to the risk of looking like a moron.
5.2.2007 1:52am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Additional evidence that this man shows a tendency to excess can be found from his divorce appeal. In particular,

"trial court denied husband's motion to compel wife to respond to his two hundred forty-eight requests for admissions, ruling that the number of requests was excessive on its face."
5.2.2007 1:58am
Viscus (mail) (www):
This judge should be disbarred.

If I was a lawyer in DC, I would represent these dry cleaner's for free. The judge might think this is very funny, but it isn't.
5.2.2007 2:54am
On The Way...:

This is why people hate lawyers.

My thoughts exactly. What the hell is wrong with this guy? It was a pair of pants.


He's suing for ten years of weekend car rentals so he can transport his dry cleaning to another store.

You can get a very nice car, and pay for parking and insurance for a decade for under $2 million, even in D.C.
5.2.2007 3:05am
Viscus (mail) (www):

This is why people hate lawyers.


This case isn't about lawyers. This case is about a particular twisted individual who is completely out of control, and should be disbarred from practicing law for dishonoring the profession.
5.2.2007 3:12am
Olof:
And Eugene wonders why he can't get an aspirin in a restaurant...
5.2.2007 4:01am
dearieme:
"he's pressing ahead with his suit": rather good, what?
5.2.2007 5:17am
dearieme:
"This is why people hate lawyers." This and Nifong.
5.2.2007 5:19am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
I agree the guy is nuts and should have settled very early. And his complaint demands much more than he's entitled to get. But so what? How often do you see a complaint that does not overreach?

Ultimately, this guy will lose, or get a judgment for much, much less than he is asking for. If he ends up getting a judgment for $67 million on these facts, then there would either be a problem with the legal system, or the statute in D.C. that made the judgment possible.
5.2.2007 5:48am
superdestroyer (mail):
No other commenters have notice the racial aspects of the legal procedings. The judge is black and the dry cleaners owners are Korean. The judge knows that a black jury in DC will give him whatever he wants if he is suing a Korean business.

One of the unstated threats in DC is that non-blacks will always be judge by a majority black jury. That threat causes many business to settle on lousy terms.
5.2.2007 6:18am
Nikki:
I read the whole thing - ugh. Why did he keep going there if they kept losing his pants (which, yes, may have been out of malice on the part of some disgruntled employee)? It may have been the most convenient dry cleaner, but you'll never get me to believe it was the only one he could possibly go to. In my neighborhood there are four dry cleaners in an area of approximately one square mile, and that's in a city substantially smaller than D.C.

Also, anyone know what the three belt loop situation is? Sounds like a band name ...

I dunno about disbarment - but I think he should be - argh, too early, word escapes me. He should be stripped of his office as a judge if that's at all possible.
5.2.2007 8:28am
Alan Gunn:
Yeah, this suit is nuts. But it's no more nuts than suing obstetricians for causing cerebral palsy by not doing enough C sections, or suing Dow Corning for causing autoimmune diseases by making silicone, which was used in breast implants. The only difference is that you don't need to know any science at all to understand this one.
5.2.2007 9:23am
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
As an ALJ, shouldn't he be familiar with a case that every first year contract student knows - Hadley v. Baxendale?
5.2.2007 9:41am
Abdul (mail):
One of the unstated threats in DC is that non-blacks will always be judge by a majority black jury. That threat causes many business to settle on lousy terms.

I would have dismissed this comment, but in Philadelphia I noticed a similar thing. The jury pool in Philly is usually 50% or more black. During settlement conferences, Judges often bring up the racial angle to pressure one side into settling.
5.2.2007 10:08am
Justin (mail):
Wow, Zarkov, way to show your anti-Palestinian racism in a blog post about DC lawyers!
5.2.2007 10:10am
Oren (mail):
Sucks to be those dry cleaners - you lose peoples' cloths all the time because you counted on not being held responsible in court and now someone is going to take you to court. Just wait till they try the "I wronged a lot of people but only a little bit at a time" defense!

Certainly it isn't fair to single out these guys - there are scores of businesses that cut corners or take unfair advantage in small ways but over tons of customers. They avoid legal repercussions because no single plaintiff has any real incentive to sue (and class-action suits generally net the plaintiffs very little).

I'm conflicted between my sincere sympathy for these guys and my desire to send all similar businesses a message that small wrongs done lots of times are just as bad as big wrongs done once.
5.2.2007 10:18am
Virginia:
Yeah I'm sure the dry cleaners deliberately lost his pants. A $67 million verdict will teach them not to do that again!
5.2.2007 10:50am
Ella (www):
Oren - Yeah, losing 100 pairs of pants is equivalent to, say, failing to store insulation safely during renovation so that a pile of it falls on someone's head, causing brain damage and permanent scarring. Seriously, if the dry cleaner won't repay you for the pants, your remedy is simple - find another dry cleaner. If they're really screwing that many people over, they'd go out of business.
5.2.2007 11:01am
J.D. (mail):
I haven't read anything other than one press account of the lawsuit, but I do wonder if the underlying claim is "frivilous." After 2 years of litigation I would think the defendants would have already unsuccessfully filed a Motion to Dismiss, Motion for Summary Judgment, for Rule 11 sanctions, and likely all of the above.
5.2.2007 11:21am
Bored Lawyer:

This is why people hate lawyers.


And this is the wrong reaction. What they should hate is the judges who do not have the guts to put a stop to this behavior.

Having practiced law for ten years, most lawyers are decent people, but there are a minority who will do anything to win a case -- if they can get away with it. That's the nub.

(Analogize this to a spoiled child -- who is to blame, the child or the parents?)

The judge here should have long ago entered partial summary judgment as follows: Plaintiff may have a claim for lost pants, which is capped at $800. Court grants partial summary judgment for any claim in excess of this amount. (Rule 56(d) of the federal rules of civil procedure permit this -- don't know about the local D.C. rules.)

The Defendants could then file an offer of judgment in that amount.

End of case.
5.2.2007 11:45am
SP:
"I'm conflicted between my sincere sympathy for these guys and my desire to send all similar businesses a message that small wrongs done lots of times are just as bad as big wrongs done once."

This is one of the most hateful things I have ever read, and completely detached from reality. Gotta break a few eggs, right?
5.2.2007 12:01pm
JonC:

"I'm conflicted between my sincere sympathy for these guys and my desire to send all similar businesses a message that small wrongs done lots of times are just as bad as big wrongs done once."


What "wrong" did the cleaners commit here? To reiterate: they found his pants and he refuses to pick them up!
5.2.2007 12:04pm
Blue:
Superdestroyer, do we know if the presiding judge is black as well?
5.2.2007 12:11pm
Realist Liberal:
A lot of people are talking about the owners demanding lawyer's fees but does anyone know how that actually works in DC? In CA the defendant can request reasonable attorneys fees in certain situations. However, one of those situations is you have to be the prevailing party. So even if the jury awards the plaintiff $1, the plaintiff is the prevailing party and the defendant isn't entitled to any fees. Is it the same in DC? What if the jury (assuming it gets that far) awards $200 to replace the pants?
5.2.2007 12:35pm
TyrantLimaBean:
That's DC for you. This is truly a place where the inmates run the asylum.

Some loose and popular examples:

Metro bus drivers keep killing people.
Street sweepers keep killing people.
The DC government's negligence led to the deaths of over 200 kids in foster care.
The Metro keeps catching on fire.
Firetrucks can't find addresses so people die.
EMT workers don't take the injured to the closest hospital (or recognize the different between someone hit in the head with a pipe and someone who is drunk) but instead to ones closest to where they have personal business to attend to...and people die.
We all know the (recently struck down but still in force) DC gun laws that prevent self-defense.
It is illegal to have pepper spray in DC unless you register it with the police.
It is illegal to have a bike in DC unless you register it with the police.
etc. etc. etc.

But what else can we expect from a place where people knowingly elect crackheads to run things?

And yes, I am aware that this semi-coherent rant is only tangentially related to the actual topic at hand. :-D
5.2.2007 12:37pm
Herbert Frenkel (mail):
>>This case isn't about lawyers.

Sure it is. The only reason that this case is causing such a ripple is the million-plus amount being asked. Would it be any less egregious if the amount were $5000? Would it be unusual enough to have made the news?
5.2.2007 12:56pm
Hattio (mail):
Anyone else notice that in the divorce appeal he filed a demurrer to a divorce complaint. I don't do a lot of family law. But what the hell? How can you say a complaint for divorce is invalid on its face?
5.2.2007 1:04pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Wow, Zarkov, way to show your anti-Palestinian racism in a blog post about DC lawyers!"

Justin, the Palestinians are white (there are five races). Whatever you offer them gets rejected because they want more with the ultimate goal of destroying you. Similarly this lawyer wanted to destroy this business out of an insane hatred for the owners. He kept rejecting more than reasonable offers just as the Palestinians do. I think the comparison is apt. What is the value of a used pair of pants? Certainly not their original cost of $800 (if that's even true), but more like $20. Try denoting a pair of pants to charity as seem how much you can deduct.

BTW I have never had a dry cleaners lose anything. And that's using cleaners on both coasts including the DC area, the New York area, and the San Francisco Bay area. While I can't really say because I wasn't there, I suspect he gave the business a really hard time as a customer by being over demanding. Look at his divorce for additional signs of this type of behavior.
5.2.2007 1:41pm
DiverDan (mail):
I have to say that the only way to deal with people who will pursue this kind of frivolous litigation is to respond in kind. The Lawyer for the Defendants should file a separate lawsuit against the judge for involuntary commitment to a mental institution, laying out the whole history of his "lost pants" litigation, and asserting that anyone who would so vigorously pursue such a frivolous claim for excessive damages is obviously insane and his abuse of the judicial process poses a serious an immediate risk to others; then demand an immediate psychiatric evaluation (actually, since he is claiming damages based upon emotional distress, the Defendants could move for a psychiatric evaluation in the lost pants lawsuit, as it is directly relevant to his damage claim). If I ever had to appear in this guy's court, I would immediately file a motion for recusal on the grounds that his malicious pursuit of this litigation demonstrates a complete incapacity to rationally perform any judicial function.
5.2.2007 1:43pm
CheckEnclosed (mail):
The plaintiff is a new judge, that explains it. If he were a more experienced judge, he would have had the defendants jailed for contempt. Then he would have given a talk about how lawyers need to be more civil to each other.
5.2.2007 1:55pm
luagha:
Zarkov, Justin, you can call it a tactic or you can call it a characteristic. But it is common to see concessions as a sign of weakness and press for further concessions.

It's common in Middle East politics especially because the final goal is destruction. You see it here. Don Imus tried to apologize, which led to him being used for publicity and them calling for his throat. It's why the President, no President, can ever admit an error of any kind and apologize for it - while this might be a 'normal' thing to do it would be handing a knife to his enemies with which to stab him endlessly.

It leads to a place where no concessions or apologies can be made.
5.2.2007 1:57pm
Oren (mail):
To clarify my earlier comment (and in response to Ella &SP) it is completely wrong to victimize these dry cleaners.

OTOH, there are plenty of local businesses that continue to commit wrongs that are technically legally actionable (loss/damage of items, magically increasing fees, failure to disclose important terms clearly etc. . . ) but avoid legal action by keeping the monetary value of these wrongs underneath the "litigation threshold".
5.2.2007 2:06pm
Ella (www):
Oren

First, we're talking about what amounts to an allegation that the drycleaners were not good at their jobs, not that they charged hidden fees, excesesive interest, or even refused to honor rebates and coupons. Second, there are three basic, nonexclusive remedies for the problem he complains of - a) stop patronizing the business and tell everyone you know about it; b) file a claim in small claims court (no attorney needed); or c) file a consumer protection complaint with your state attorney general. All of these are perfectly effective ways to remedy your harm, although they don't provide the opportunity for an unmeritted windfall or to personally destroy the lives of the people who "did you wrong."
5.2.2007 2:22pm
Avatar (mail):
One points out that it would be much more of an effective message on behalf of the defendants if they simply had the judge killed; that would cost much, much less than $67 million, pretty much no matter how it was carried out.
5.2.2007 2:38pm
Richard Souther:
The problem is that the judge is suing under the DC consumer protection laws. These laws are so broadly worded that he can claim that the dry cleaners signs of "satisfaction guaranteed" and "same day service" amounted to fraudulent advertising.

As there is a good faith argument for his statutory claims, the Defendants, unfortunately, would not be entitled to an award of attorney fees.
5.2.2007 2:43pm
George Weiss:




oren-

this is not really the time to be addressing the problem of business actions that cut corners in small ways....if you want to adress that...ask why there is a litigation threshold in the first place (not enough court resources) ...ask about the inadequacies of other remedys for bad buissness like the better business burro and the simple supply and demand curve that will put a dishonest business out of business

ask if when we get pissed off about getting screwed over in some small way by businesses and immediately assume this exact thing happens to a million other people a year (yes i do that too) ...if we have any evidence for that assumption..or if we are just pissed off (perhaps at ourselves for being taken in by the scam)

don't express sympathy for the guy who's suing for 64 million dollars for lost pants.....even though you say you dont agree with what hes doing..bringing it up now makes it look like your conflicted.

Alan Gunn wrote:
Yeah, this suit is nuts. But it's no more nuts than suing obstetricians for causing cerebral palsy by not doing enough C sections, or suing Dow Corning for causing autoimmune diseases by making silicone, which was used in breast implants. The only difference is that you don't need to know any science at all to understand this one.


NO ITS A LOT MORE NUTS:

1. because those doctors are set up to defend themselves from those types of frivolous suits..however frivolous they are (as far as i know..there is no malpractice insurance for the dry cleaning profession)

2. because this person is a ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE

3. 64 MILLION DOLLORS

4. TWO YEARS
5.2.2007 3:52pm
Justin (mail):
Keep digging, Carlton Coon. Nothing like defending a racist point by referring to a theory of race that is both itself racist and outdated.
5.2.2007 4:01pm
Fub:
Mike BUSL07 wrote at:
As an ALJ, shouldn't he be familiar with a case that every first year contract student knows - Hadley v. Baxendale?
Distinguishable on the facts. That was about a broken shaft. This guy is shafting the defendants as well as the courts. Maybe he's relying on Hadley V. Baxendale.
5.2.2007 4:31pm
uh clem (mail):
NO ITS A LOT MORE NUTS:

1. because those doctors are set up to defend themselves from those types of frivolous suits..however frivolous they are (as far as i know..there is no malpractice insurance for the dry cleaning profession)

2. because this person is a ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE

3. 64 MILLION DOLLORS

4. TWO YEARS


5. And unlike plaintiffs with cerebal palsey or autoimmune diseases, the harm this guy suffered is absolutely completly trivial i.e. losing an easily replaced pair of pants.

Yes, it is a lot lot lot lot more nuts. Seems to me that it shows a lack of judicial temperment sufficient to disqualify him from the bench.

And for the logicians in the audience, might I point out that an example of one frivilous lawsuit, no matter how frivilous (and it doesn't come much more frivilous than this) does not imply that all consumer rights lawsuits are frivilous.
5.2.2007 5:00pm
George Weiss:
its certinly true that not all consumer right lawsuits are firvolus

and id be the first one to tell people not to make policy because of one case.

but it does seem like in this particular case there is a structural problem with the consumer protection code.
5.2.2007 5:06pm
Mike S.:
The link in Fub's post is not to the case but to an adult toy site.
5.2.2007 5:53pm
Alan Gunn:
George Weiss wrote:


Alan Gunn wrote:
Yeah, this suit is nuts. But it's no more nuts than suing obstetricians for causing cerebral palsy by not doing enough C sections, or suing Dow Corning for causing autoimmune diseases by making silicone, which was used in breast implants. The only difference is that you don't need to know any science at all to understand this one.


NO ITS A LOT MORE NUTS:

1. because those doctors are set up to defend themselves from those types of frivolous suits..however frivolous they are (as far as i know..there is no malpractice insurance for the dry cleaning profession)

2. because this person is a ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE

3. 64 MILLION DOLLORS

4. TWO YEARS


On the other hand, the cases I described went in favor of the plaintiffs in the end, and, as a result, people have died. The C section rate has gone up quite a bit over the past few decades, mainly because of fears of malpractice litigation, and C sections, like all major surgery, are sometimes fatal. The scientific consensus is that fetal distress has not been shown to cause cerebral palsy. In the case of silicone, silicone became unavailable for medical uses as a result of the litigation (which was settled, at enormous cost). So, for a while, no silicone stents. Metal stents are more dangerous. (If I seem peeved, it may be because I have four metal stents; I'll have to take medication for the rest of my life to keep them from clogging up, with silicone, I wouldn't have had to.) And the unavailability of silicone breast implants has surely deterred some women from getting mastectomies, probably deterred some even from getting mammograms. If so, more deaths.

So, even if you're right about which case is more nuts, the ones I cited have almost certainly killed people. The pants case, by contrast, while hard on the defendants, has probably had a useful educational effect, and I doubt that anyone will die.
5.2.2007 6:10pm
just my thoughts:
A. Zarkov,

Or this quote:

"The trial court found that husband was substantially responsible for "excessive driving up" of the legal costs by "threatening both wife and her lawyer with disbarment [sic]," and creating unnecessary litigation. [Now THAT's a shocker!!]

Consequently, it awarded wife $12,000 in legal fees to be paid by husband.

Credible evidence supports the trial court's ruling. The trial court made specific findings concerning the award of attorney's fees, including that the litigation was disproportionately long despite the relative simplicity of the case and that husband "in good part is responsible for excessive driving up of everything that went on here including threatening both the wife and her lawyer with disbarment as a member of both the D.C. bar and Virginia bar," which created "unnecessary litigation."
5.2.2007 6:27pm
Steve H (mail):
The $67 million is just a number typed onto a pleading. He's not going to get it, and everyone knows it.

The defendants probably could not have the case dismissed because the plaintiff probably does have a valid claim -- for the cost of the pants, and maybe a trebling or something if the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" thing violates a consumer protection law. But there's no way he gets a violation for every day, multiplied by three because he chose to sue three people.

And certainly the defendants and their lawyers know it, too. They could probably move to dismiss part of the claim, but why would they? It's cheaper to go to trial and have the claims dismissed at that point.

And I wonder exactly how many "thousands" of dollars these defendants have really spent to defend against the claim.
5.2.2007 7:45pm
Fub:
Mike S. wrote at 5.2.2007 4:53pm:
The link in Fub's post is not to the case but to an adult toy site.
Insofar as I should have cautioned the link as "not work safe", I apologize for not doing so. Some employers may be as pathological as the plaintiff in the case discussed here.

Although I could explain for you the link's relevance to my comment, I could never understand it for you.

Hint: I wrote that the plaintiff might be relying on Hadley V. Baxendale, as distinct from the case, for reasons stated in my original comment.

The text of the review at the link clarifies that point.

Those offended by images should configure browsers accordingly. The humor impaired should avoid reading my comments entirely.
5.2.2007 7:47pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Oren (not to be confused with Orin): there are businesses that routinely "continue to commit wrongs." Those businesses are ones with one-time customers, like moving companies.

Businesses that depend on repeat business -- it's hard to imagine an example better than a dry cleaners -- don't do this, because they quickly go out of business if they do.
5.2.2007 8:13pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
And I wonder exactly how many "thousands" of dollars these defendants have really spent to defend against the claim.
Steve H: many.

You can check out the Docket at dccourts.com/pa, and search for "Pearson." It's docket# 2005 CA 004302 B. Count the number of motions filed by this schmuck, in what should be a small-claims matter. Including numerous discovery motions and a summary judgment motion, and a motion to amend the complaint a year into the case.

You're mistaken in thinking that "They could probably move to dismiss part of the claim, but why would they? It's cheaper to go to trial and have the claims dismissed at that point." In fact, they did. (It was granted in part and denied in part.)

By the way, the defendants filed an offer of judgment in January 2006. Here's hoping that Pearson owes the cleaners a lot of money.
5.2.2007 8:40pm
NLG (mail):
I haven't read the DC Consumer Protection statute, but if the news reports are correct, there is something seriously wrong with the statute. In most jurisdictions, consumer protection statutes provide that only the Attorney General may commence an action for civil penalties. Individual plaintiffs are entitled to sue for actual damages, and in some case for the greater of actual damages or some threshhold amount like $100 in cases where the purchase was for some inexpensive item or items. New Jersey, which until now I thought had about the strongest consumer protection law in the US, provides for mandatory trebling of damages, but that is a rare exception.

Leaving aside that very obvious problem (which a decent judge could dispose of by, for instance, ruling that there were at most a couple of violations, one for each lost pair of pants, since once the pair of pants is lost it makes no sense to claim every day they are lost is another violation), there clearly is a fundamental case management problem as well. In what parallel universe does a plaintiff in a case like this require dozens of witnesses? Perhaps I'm missing something, but I cannot fathom there are more than a couple of very basic elements of the ALJ/Plaintiff's claim to be proved. No wonder it is costing the dry cleaners so much to defend (I, too, would likely have volunteered to represent them pro bono if I lived in DC).

Last, the real reason cases like this allow the media to cast the legal profession in such a dim light is that they don't get enough exposure to all the true nut cases out there who litigate myriad insane claims and legal theories every day in the courts around the country. Anyone on this blog who has clerked for a federal district or circuit judge has seen far crazier, some of whom eventually make it onto "frivolous litigant" list in the court. I will always fondly remember the time the judge I clerked for, hearing an appeal from an order of the district court denying a motion by plaintiff to enjoin the United States from sending its designated secret agent to poison the plaintiff by putting a fruit extract in a city's water supply, asked me if it would be OK if he gently suggested that tin foil in the hat might help the situation (it would block the secret agent's ability to track plaintiff's whereabouts). Unfortunately, that day I was more prudent than in retrospect I wished I had been, and I convinced him it was best left for us to laugh about that rather than raise it at oral argument.
5.2.2007 8:53pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Marion Barry continues to serve on the DC City Council despite his misdemeanor conviction in 2006 for failure to pay federal and local taxes. He also (yet again) tested positive for cocaine and marijuana. Here are some of his most famous quotes as mayor:

"If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very very low crime rate."

"The contagious people of Washington have stood firm against diversity during this long period of increment weather."

"I am clearly more popular than Reagan. I am in my third term. Where's Reagan? Gone after two! Defeated by George Bush and Michael Dukakis no less."

"People have criticized me because my security detail is larger than the president's. But you must ask yourself: are there more people who want to kill me than who want to kill the president? I can assure you there are."

"People blame me because these water mains break, but I ask you, if the water mains didn't break, would it be my responsibility to fix them then? WOULD IT!?!"

"The laws in this city are clearly racist. All laws are racist. The law of gravity is racist."
His 1992 campaign slogan, "He May Not Be Perfect, But He's Perfect for D.C."
5.2.2007 8:56pm
neurodoc:
A. Zarkhov: The Chungs made a big mistake in making him an initial offer of $3,000. Like the Palestinians, the more you offer the more he wants because he is insane.

Justin: Wow, Zarkov, way to show your anti-Palestinian racism in a blog post about DC lawyers!

Justin, who characterizes himself as "moderately pro-Israel," regularly jumps in to challenge those expressing pro-Israel views. And he will not allow that many of the most stridently "anti-Zionist" may in fact or in effect be anti-semites. Now, A. Zarkov likens this plaintiff to the Palestinians because "the more you offer the more he wants because he is insane," and that according to Justin makes A. Zarkhov guilty of "racism"?!

To convict of "anti-semitism," which may be seen as a special case of "racism," Justin would demand proof capable of convincing a jury beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt. But Justin, a "progressive," does not hesitate to level the poisonous charge of "racism," and he would require nothing beyond a scintilla of proof, if that much, to convict someone expressing an unfavorable view of Palestinians as a "racist".
5.2.2007 9:51pm
Mike S.:
Fub: I appreciate the humor now that I am at home. At work it was decidedly unfunny.
5.2.2007 10:23pm
George Weiss:
Alan Gunn

I'm sorry about your medical situation...had i known i would never of said what i did

i think why im more outraged by this case as opposed to medical malpractice lawsuits that cripple good medical treatments b/c the people suing in the medcical malpractice had real life thretining injuries as well

you say its not fair to blame the doctor or the procedures..and you may be right...despite the jury's sympathetic award to the plaintiff in the cases you talk about)

these malpractice plaintiffs people were in court for redress of real issues...they were using the court for what it was designed for..whether the end judgment was fair or not..and whether they were right to blame the doctors or not...they weren't out to get revenge on the doctors...at worst they were out to get rich

on the other hand..here is an administrative judge (who is the epitome of someone who should know better) who is abusing the system and some poor drycleaner..not for redress..not even for money (hes never going to get 64 million dolors)..but for spite....pure spite


malpractice/tort reform are major policy issues...people die because of BOTH real malpractice AND because of what litigation can cripple medicine...the big question there is how do we find the economic balance...the fewest deaths..the lowest cost to society.

the question for the dry cleaning case is spite...pure spite.

does that help?
5.2.2007 11:08pm
Fub:
NLG wrote at 5.2.2007 7:53pm:
Unfortunately, that day I was more prudent than in retrospect I wished I had been, and I convinced him it was best left for us to laugh about that rather than raise it at oral argument.
In a recent string of inane local cases I followed, a pro per litigant sued a (once) friend for libel per se, praying for punitive damages without showing actuals. The alleged libel was that defendant had stated in a writing that plaintiff was crazy to be suing everybody in sight.

Defendant prevailed on his anti-SLAPP motion in response to which which plaintiff had produced no admissible evidence whatever. In drafting the proposed order on the motion, defendant's attorney stuck assiduously to a simple legal issue: that plaintiff had presented no evidence to show that defendant's statements were not non-actionable opinion and hyperbole, and so had not demonstrated a likelihood of prevailing on the libel cause.

The trial judge edited the proposed order slightly, adding "and plaintiff has not presented any evidence indicating the statements are false."
5.2.2007 11:24pm
George Weiss:
by the way...David M. Nieporent is correct..you can view the docket for this case online at the dc superior court website by searching for pearson by name (you can see the events of the case but you cant see the contents of the motions or court documents or decisions/orders etc..)

the trial is currently set for a non jury trial to all issues except punitive damages...

if it gets to that phase it is yet to be determined the nature of that part of the trial.

the date is currently set for 6/11

of course all this can change....there have been MANY motions filed in the case....



but for now..all the racisim shit (that peason is black and dc is very black so there will be a black jury) is blown out of the water

there is no jury to racist...how about that
5.2.2007 11:35pm
Russ (mail):
I love Stev H's logic: the defendants probably haven't had to pay all that much money, so it really isn't such a big deal that Pearson is doing this.

I hope you are never on the wrong end of your own logic someday.
5.2.2007 11:40pm
Fub:
Mike S. wrote at 5.2.2007 9:23pm:
Fub: I appreciate the humor now that I am at home. At work it was decidedly unfunny.
I ordinarily browse with images and ads blocked due to low bandwidth as I was this morning, and usually not at work. Upon viewing the page with images enabled after your complaint, I understand your point.
5.3.2007 12:07am
juris_imprudent (mail):
Nothing like defending a racist point by referring to a theory of race that is both itself racist and outdated.

Now that's amusing Justin, since you brought up the canard of treating Palestinians as a "race". Science has discarded the notion of race, but politics will probably never be free of it.
5.3.2007 12:17am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Science has discarded the notion of race, …"

Not really. There is now genetic basis behind racial classifications. A large body of literature supports this notion. For example, Reconstruction of Human Evolution: Bringing Together Genetic, Archaeological, and Linguistic Data by Stanford Professor Cavalli-Sforza, note especially Fig 1. More recent approaches use DNA in form of ancestry informative makers. For example the Duffey Null allele has a gene frequency of almost 100% Sub-Saharan Africans, but occurs very infrequently in other races. The company DNA print Genomics claims it can identify a person's race from their DNA. The genetic markers used do not correspond those that determine visible morphology. Of course many holdouts nit pick the research and steadfastly claim that race is merely a social construct. It seems to me that this is a losing position in view of the fact that we can now objectively identify the race that a person self identifies.
5.3.2007 2:20am
Tom Rinker (mail):
My grandfather was a sucessfull corporate lawyer who once even argued a case before the Supreme Court. He was a firm believer in our court system. I strongly believe that if this judge wins any kind of judgement in this outrageous case against the cleaners, he will be doing some serious rethinking from beyond the grave. This case makes the McDonald's Coffee Millionaire seem positively sane by comparison. -- Tom Rinker, Albuquerque, NM
5.3.2007 4:05am
JB:
George Weiss: In an earlier comment you refer to the "better business burro." I know the law is an ass, but you needn't tar the BBB with the same brush :)
5.3.2007 5:13am
Zyzzogeton:
In this case, race is the 800 lb gorilla in the room that few wish to mention.

The plantiff/judge in this case is an African-American in D.C., a jurisdiction where, if there's a jury trial, the jury will likely be composed of mostly African-Americans. There is animosity among many African-Americans against Asian business owners (the defendants) and that is what is partly fueling this lawsuit. Moreover, the plaintiff/judge's race may have played a role in this case not being dismissed.

I know I am speculating. People will differ in how much this rings true to them.
5.3.2007 9:17am
George Weiss:
JB

i didnt mean to equate the BBB and the law

i was mearly suggesting it as a talking point for Oren...that is..to talk about the BBB's effectivness and other variables that go into the amount that buisnesses screw people over in small ways.

and by the way...i never said at any point that the law was evil.

im going to be a lawyer myself
5.3.2007 3:12pm
neurodoc:
The scientific consensus is that fetal distress has not been shown to cause cerebral palsy.

As a categoric statement, that is not true. Volpe (Neurology of the Newborn), a highly respected pediatric neurologist, attributes 12% of cerebral palsy cases to neonatal asphyxia. That estimate is several times greater than most neuroepidemiologists (Nelson and Ellenberg) would accept. None would maintain, however, that negligence on the part of an obstetrician around the time of delivery can't result in cerebral palsy, though a very, very small percent of cerebral palsy is attributable to physician negligence. Indeed, the American College of Obstetricians, the most dogged defender of obstetricians and a strong advocate of tort reform, has published its own criteria for establishing when neonatal asphyxia has cause brain injuries.
5.3.2007 3:27pm
George Weiss:
Zyzzogeton:

there will be no jury trial for the damges phase

it reamins to be seen if there will be a punitive phase and if so whether there will be a trial.


there is no 800 lbs gorilla in the closet

not every bad situation is the result of rasisim
5.3.2007 7:08pm
pops (mail):
Hasn't anyone out there ever heard of the doctrine of Duty of Mitigation of Damages? Doesn't it seem that Judge Pearson failed in his duty? Just wondering.
5.4.2007 9:47pm