Judge Rules in Favor of Dry Cleaners in $54 Million Pants Lawsuit

Pearson then rushed from the courtroom, overcome with emotion.

From $10 to $67 Million for Pants

The bad blood between the customer and store dates back to 2002, when another pair of pants was allegedly lost by the dry cleaners.

The Chungs gave Pearson a $150 check for a new pair of pants, and Pearson was banned from the store, defense attorney Manning claimed in court.

Manning said Pearson pleaded with the Chungs to let him back into the store because he didn't have a car, he said, and they were the only dry cleaners in the neighborhood.

Three years later, Pearson said he returned to Custom Cleaners and, like some real-life "Groundhog Day" nightmare, another pair of trousers went missing.

It was May 2005 and Pearson was about to begin his new job as an administrative judge. He said in court filings he wanted to wear a nice outfit to his first day of work. He tried on five Hickey Freeman suits from his closet, but found them all to be "too tight," according to the Washington Post, which first reported the story.

Pearson said he brought one pair of pants in for alterations and they went missing -- gray trousers with what Pearson described in court papers as blue and red stripes on them. The dry cleaning bill was $10.50.

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.

Finally, they offered $12,000 for the missing gray trousers with the red and blue stripes.

Pearson refused every offer. With neither satisfaction nor his prized gray pants, Pearson upped the ante considerably.

He went to the law books. Citing the District of Columbia's consumer protection laws, he claimed he was entitled to $1,500 per violation -- each day that the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service" signs were up in the store. It had been more than 1,200 days.

And he multiplied each violation by three because he sued Jin and Soo Chung and their son. With another $1 million for emotional damages and more for legal fees, that brought Pearson to $67 million, though he later amended his filings to ask for only $54 million.

An 'Outrageous' Claim

Even fellow trial lawyers were offended by the size of the civil lawsuit.

"It's outrageous and it's shameful," Bill Schulz, spokesman for the American Association for Justice, the largest trial lawyer group in the nation, told ABC News. The AAJ filed a complaint about Pearson recently with the District of Columbia bar association.

Schulz said the case is an embarrassing anomaly that "should not be used as an indictment against the civil justice system in this country because, it works quite well, thank you, for people -- ordinary people -- who are seeking real justice for real cases of negligence and wrongdoing."

"It's laughable," said Philip K. Howard, founder of the nonpartisan law policy coalition Common Good. "It's like a parody of the American system of justice."

Lawsuit Is 'Not Humorous'

Ironically, less than a week after Pearson dropped off the missing trousers in 2005, Soo Chung said she found them. She tried to return them to Pearson but he said they were the wrong pants.

The Chungs said they are certain they have located the missing trousers.

Before the end of the trial, the Chungs told ABC News that they have spent thousands of dollars defending themselves against Pearson's lawsuit.

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