Monday, June 25, 2007

The Case of the Wandering Pants

Where do I start with this one? Picture this: Man's down on his luck. Man gets new gig. Man needs pants let out so his suits will fit. Man brings suits (with pants) to cleaners. Cleaners can't immediately find one pair of pants. Cleaners finds pants later. May says "pants they may be, but mine they aren't." Man sues cleaners...for $65 million.

The man was administrative law judge, Roy Pearson, who insisted that he'd been lied to. Seems that Custom Cleaners had a "satisfaction guaranteed" sign up in their shop--a sign that, according to Pearson, was the height of effrontery. His calculations of damages included the hiring of a private car to drive him weekly to another dry cleaners for the next 10 years.

Curiously this was all over the international news (read Greta Van Susteren's interview and in-depth discussion of Judge Roy's pants with the Chungs' defense attorney--if you can stand it).

The courtroom scene had drama and pathos. Judge Roy cried over his pants...and so did Mrs. Chung, co-owner of the shop. It had international news and a courtroom filled with more reporters than family, or anyone else. The judge in the case sided with the Chungs, giving Judge Roy nothing. In fact, he may be paying the court expenses of the Chungs to boot and faces disbarment.

All in all, a very sad case: I think Judge Roy has other issues I hope he gets help for.

In the Washington Post article, Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federal of Independent Business Legal Foundation is quoted as saying "Small-business owners like the Chungs live in fear every day that they will be the next victim of a frivolous lawsuit and could possibly lose their business."

In an age of law suits filed because spilled coffee is actually hot, it is something for those of us in business to be worried about.