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The Return of Judge Fancy Pants

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, October 23, 2008 10:44 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Tort Reform, Missing Pants, Institute for Legal Reform, Frivolous Lawsuits

Judge Roy Pearson is in the news again.



IMAGE:  Judge Roy Pearson


Former Judge Roy Pearson is in the news again.

Remember Judge Fancy Pants who was heralded as a shining example of “frivolous lawsuits," a frequent cry of the tort reform movement?  Everyone agreed that suing a dry cleaner for $54 million was absurd and wondered why the case was not thrown out on its face.

But it was not and on Wednesday before a three-judge D.C. Court of Appeals panel, the former administrative law judge tried to revive the once-hot pants issue.

“This is not a case about a pair of suit pants,” Pearson said representing himself.  “Rather it is about whether the owners of a neighborhood business misled consumers with a sign that claimed ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed.’”  

Pearson called the sign an “unconditional guarantee,” that is unless the merchant indicates otherwise.

The panel asked for help translating what that means, asking for another example.

“You haven’t pointed me to a case which reaches a conclusion you would have us reach,” said Judge Phyllis Thompson.

Pearson failed to give an example, but said that lawsuit falls under the city’s Consumer Protection Act.

“Where’s the fraud?” asked appellate judge Michael Farrell.

The courtroom was filled with students, lawyers, and the curious who wanted to watch the issue that made it into the “Ripped from the Headlines” line-up of the NBC show Law and Order.

The panel will decide the appeal in two to four months.

Last year Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled against Pearson’s “satisfaction guaranteed” argument was not one a reasonable person would make. She also ruled Pearson did not prove his pants were lost.  

After losing his pants, last November Judge Pearson lost his $100,000 a year job. In May he filed a lawsuit in federal court to try and gets his job back, accusing the city government of unlawful demotion.

The Chungs, who were the subject of the pants wrath, closed their D.C. dry cleaner but have opened another shop in the city. 

The Institute for Legal Reform, created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, rallied around the couple holding a fund-raiser.   

The Judge Roy L. Pearson story and the $54 plus million lawsuit is the subject of the InjuryBoard.com video available on this website, Fancy Pants-The Myth of the Frivolous Lawsuit. 

In it, Injuryboard.com explores the roots of the tort reform movement that waves the “frivolous” lawsuit flag to discourage lawsuits as a remedy to injury from dangerous products.  The tort reform movement has roots in the tobacco industry which funded the modern day tort reform movement as have most major industries with the most to lose in litigation from Americans who may have suffered harm from defective products.

Most trial attorneys admit they cannot afford to take on reckless or outrageous litigation because the cost of going to trial is prohibitive.

And judges have the option to throw out cases that appear to be without reason. The fancy pants case may be the exception. # 

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