Roy L. Pearson, an administrative law judge in Washington, D.C., is suing Jin and Soo Chung, the owners of a dry cleaning store, for $54 million because they misplaced the pants from a suit he had asked them to alter. He has rejected a $12,000 settlement offer. Yesterday in court, the Chungs' lawyer introduced into evidence the very pants that Pearson had tried to have returned. Pearson has refused to take them back, insisting they are a cheap knockoff of the fancy-schmancy Hickey Freeman trousers he left in the Chungs' care. Since the entire suit cost $1,150, how did Pearson arrive at the $54 million figure? He claims that under Washington's consumer protection law the Chungs "each owe $18,000 for each day over a nearly four-year period in which signs at their store promised 'Same Day Service' and 'Satisfaction Guaranteed.'"
Pearson, who cried while testifying about the trauma of losing his beloved pants, says he's doing it for the little people: all the consumers who might be deceived by the Chungs' false promises. D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff did not buy it. "You are not a we, you are an I," she told him on the first day of the trial. "You are seeking damages on your own behalf, and that is all."