Fort Lincoln neighbors are enjoying what they consider the
comedy of it all.
"The whole city is aware of this lawsuit," said Bob King, who
represents Fort Lincoln on the Advisory Neighborhood
Commissions. "Everybody's laughing about it."
Everybody except the Chungs, who have spent thousands of dollars
defending themselves against Pearson's lawsuit.
"It's not humorous, not funny and nobody would have thought that
something like this would have happened," Soo Chung told ABC
News through an interpreter.
Her husband agreed.
"It's affecting us first of all financially, because of all the
lawyers' fees," Jin Chung said. "For two years, we've been
paying lawyer fees. … We've gotten bad credit as well, and
secondly, it's been difficult mentally and physically because of
the level of stress."
Later, Soo Chung broke down in tears.
"I would have never thought it would have dragged on this long,"
she told ABC News. "I don't want to live here anymore. It's been
so difficult. I just want to go home, go back to Korea."
"I've been in the dry cleaning business for 14 years, but this
has never ever happened before. If anything happened to our
customers' clothing, we would always compensate them accordingly
and fairly," Jin Chung said through a translator.
The problems date back to 2002.
Pearson says in court papers that he took a pair of pants into
Custom Cleaners in Fort Lincoln that year, and the pants were
So Jin and Soo Chung gave Pearson a $150 check for a new pair of
Three years later, Pearson says he returned to Custom Cleaners
and -- like some real-life "Groundhog Day" nightmare -- his
trousers went missing.
It was May 2005 and Pearson was about to begin his new job as an
administrative judge. Naturally, he wanted to wear a nice outfit
to his first day of work. He said in court papers that he tried
on five Hickey Freeman suits from his closet, but found them all
to be "too tight," according to the Washington Post.
He brought one pair in for alterations and they went missing
-- gray trousers with what Pearson described in court papers as
blue and red stripes on them.
First, Pearson demanded $1,150 for a new suit. Lawyers were
hired, legal wrangling ensued and eventually the Chungs offered
Pearson $3,000 in compensation.
Then they offered him $4,600.
Still no dice.
Finally, they offered $12,000 for the missing gray trousers with
the red and blue stripes.
Pearson said no.
With neither satisfaction nor his prized gray pants, Pearson
upped the ante considerably.
The judge went to the lawbooks. Citing the District of
Columbia's consumer protection laws, he claims he is entitled to
$1,500 per violation.
What follows is the beginning of thousands of pages of legal
documents and correspondence that, two years later, have led to
a massive civil lawsuit in the amount of $67 million.
According to court papers, here's how Pearson calculates the
damages and legal fees:
He believes he is entitled to $1,500 for each violation, each
day during which the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign and another
sign promising "Same Day Service" was up in the store -- more
than 1,200 days.
And he's multiplying each violation by three because he's suing
Jin and Soo Chung and their son.
He also wants $500,000 in emotional damages and $542, 500 in
legal fees, even though he is representing himself in court.
He wants $15,000 for 10 years' worth of weekend car rentals as
After enlisting neighbors and fellow customers, he sought to
expand the case into a class action suit, but was denied,
angrily, by District of Columbia Civil Judge Neal Kravitz.
"The Court has significant concerns that the plaintiff is acting
in bad faith and with an intent to delay the proceedings," the
judge wrote in court papers. "Indeed, it is difficult to draw
any other conclusion, given the plaintiff's lengthy delay in
seeking to expand the scope of the case, the breathtaking
magnitude of the expansion he seeks, his failure to present any
evidence in support of the thousands of claims he says he wishes
to add, and his misrepresentation concerning the scope of his
first amended complaint."
The case will now be heard by another judge in June
2007. Both Kravitz and the new judge declined to comment on the case to ABC
Ironically, less than a week after Pearson dropped off the
missing trousers in 2005, Soo Chung found them, she says.
tried to return them to Pearson but he said they were the wrong
"So these are the missing pants, huh?" Avila asked the Chungs'
attorney, Chris Manning.
"These are," Manning said, holding up a flimsy pair of gray
Manning's argument is based on both the receipt and the telltale
"three belt loop situation," as he explains it.
"When the pants were brought in, Mrs. Chung noticed the three
belt loop situation and in finding them realized that they were
Mr. Pearson's pants based on that."
He also said the receipt tag on the pants "exactly matches the
receipt that Mr. Pearson has."
Manning is angry with Pearson, saying the judge has terrorized
the Chungs for spite.
"They came to the United States hoping for the American dream,"
Manning said, "and Roy Pearson has made it a nightmare."
three comments made by
people who read this article:
This just goes to show the continuing spiral downward for our
refusal to accept any responsibility. Instead we are asking
government to make our decisions for us and look where it
leads...67 mill for a pair of pants....millions for "hot" coffee
that now is mostly tepid, all because someone was STUPID enough
to put a container of hot liquid between their legs. What's next
? How long before we ask congress to take over our families
because of the stress of everyday life ? We can sit on here and
idly hope that someone does something for us to take care of the
stupidity we have helped perpetuate...but how many in Mr
Pearsons' district have called or written to have him removed
from office or disbarred for his behavior ? It's our country,
people fought and died for us to have rights. Why do we give
them away just so we can feel blameless....or just lazy ? It's
time to stop whining and act. We do have rights and one of the
greatest granted to us is the power of free speech. Stand up and
make yourself heard. Vote when the time comes. Let's do
something constructive for a change.
this is utterly disgusting. For once in my life, I am rendered
(mostly) speechless! I read his "reasoning" and "justifications"
for asking for such a ridiculous amount in compensation and
immediately felt nauseous. If this judge's pants were made out
of diamonds they wouldn't be worth that much! I agree with
hari_v in that the so-called judge should be made to pay the
chung's legal fees, and add that he should be disbarred. The
idea that someone with such an obvious lack of moral fiber is in
the position of power that he is currently in is horrifying.
I felt sick to my stomach when I first read the article a couple
of days ago. I felt disgusted and angry that a civilized nation,
if not the greatest nation ever to grace the earth (for good or
bad) could allow a justice and legal system to support such a
vindictive and malicious claim. Now, reading these messages, I
am equally stunned to read of those wishing to "hear Mr.
Pearson's side of the story" or "the media seems one-sided"
comments. Could that many people have lost all sensibility and
empathy for others? The only power that WE have, and I mean 'we'
to mean those generally without power - is to support the cause
of the Chungs, vocally and financially, and to put pressure on
those we elect to remove such vile people from position of
EDITOR'S COMMENT: I
will simply agree with the statement made in Comment
disgusted and angry that a civilized nation, if not the
greatest nation ever to grace the earth (for good or
bad) could allow a justice and legal system to support
such a vindictive and malicious claim.
And so what do
you think? Email to Rick Archer,