Hard times for judge who sued dry-cleaner for $65M over missing pants

When DC administrative judge Roy Pearson sued his local dry-cleaner for $65,000,000 over a pair of lost pants, it was a gift to newswriters everywhere, and especially Kevin Underhill of Lowering the Bar, who followed the case with headlines like: Judge Drops Pants; Suit Still On, Judge Who Lost Pants Loses Case, Judge Who Lost Pants Forced to Rely on Briefs, and more.

11 years later, Pearson is still giving. Having refused an initial settlement offer of $12,000 (for a lost pair of pants!); he changed his focus to suing over signs like "Satisfaction Guaranteed"; went to trial and called 9 witnesses including himself (he cried during his testimony); then, having lost (duh), appealed; and then he lost his job; then he sued his employers for wrongful termination (he lost) (duh); lost his appeal on his pants case; appealed to the DC Appeals Court en banc (he lost); and filed an appeal in his wrongful dismissal suit and didn't get it.

In 2015, the DCs Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed charges alleging Pearson's professional conduct, and now, the Board of Professional Responsibility has found him guilty on two charges.

No word on whether he'll appeal.

Not exactly a "rocket docket" there in D.C., as you may have noticed, and Pearson argued the delay was unconstitutional. A six-year delay is a little startling, but the committee found the delay itself hadn't harmed him. And while it is tempting to say they should have just let it rest, it's also worth remembering this was a lengthy and expensive vendetta over a pair of pants, based on the legal argument that a sign saying "Satisfaction Guaranteed" means the customer can make any demands whatsoever—anything at all—and the merchant has to agree.

As the committee's report notes, Pearson is still insisting he's right about this. At the hearing he argued the defendants were liable whether or not they actually lost his pants in the first place, and that he would have been entitled to a trillion dollars if that's what it would have taken to satisfy him. In fact, he acknowledged that if there were any "reasonable limits" on the interpretation of "Satisfaction Guaranteed," that would have "eliminated the basis" for his legal claims. That's somebody who's just not getting it.

The committee did not agree with all the charges, but it did agree that while his underlying argument was not totally insane, he had pushed it "beyond the bounds of reason" and had "interfered with the administration of justice" by doing so. It recommended two years of probation, so if he can go that long without making any frivolous arguments, he should be in the clear.

The $65-Million Pants Case: Chapter 28

[Kevin Underhill/Lowering the Bar]

(Image: Four Hundred Years, Gary Dee, CC-BY)