Judge Lost Pants, Lost Shirt in Court and Now His Robe?

Neither Pearson nor Manning could immediately be reached for comment this morning.

The trial proved nearly as dramatic and unusual as the plaintiff's claims. On the witness stand, Pearson broke down in tears while testifying about his experience with the missing trousers. Because he served as his own lawyer, Pearson wept during a question-and-answer session with himself.

In his opening statement, Pearson came out swinging, telling the court, "Never before in recorded history have a group of defendants engaged in such misleading and unfair business practices."

Repeatedly referring to himself as "we," Pearson sought to present himself as the leader of a class of tens of thousands, if not a half-million people, consisting of local residents he believes are at risk of falling for such insidious business practices as posting "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service" signs. Pearson said at one point in court filings that he planned to call 63 witnesses.

But Judge Judith Bartnoff, who presided over the trial, made every attempt to thwart his efforts.

"Mr. Pearson, you are not we. You are an I," Bartnoff told him.

As Pearson explained the details of the missing pants, he struggled to get through his hour and a half of testimony, most of which concerned his credentials and his background.

He became visibly emotional when he recounted a confrontation with Soo Chung.

"These are not my pants," he said he told her. "I have in my adult life, with one exception, never worn pants with cuffs."

Pearson testified that Chung insisted, saying, "These are your pants."

Pearson then rushed from the courtroom, overcome with emotion.

From $10.50 to $67 Million for Pants

The bad blood between the customer and store dates back to 2002, when Pearson claimed a first pair of pants had disappeared from 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 said in court.

Manning said Pearson pleaded with the Chungs to let him back into the store because he didn't have a car 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 Post, which first reported the story.

Pearson said he brought one pair of pants in for alterations and they disappeared — 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 lawbooks. Citing the District of Columbia's consumer protection laws, he said 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.

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