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3
Sue the Pants Off Them
Did You Know?

There were approximately 7.4 million civil claims filed in state courts in 2005 [source: Langton and Cohen].

In 2007, Roy Pearson, a Washington, D.C., judge, filed one of the most outrageous lawsuits of recent times when he sued a small mom-and-pop dry cleaner over a pair of pants. Pearson claimed that the shop's owners, Jin and Soo Chung, misplaced his pants after he brought them in for a $10.50 alteration, and then tried to return a cheap, imitation pair of his $800 trousers. Though the Chungs felt they'd done nothing wrong, they ultimately offered to settle with the judge for $12,000.

Unimpressed, the judge sued the Chungs and their son, asserting that the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service" signs posted in the store represented an "unconditional guarantee" that entitled him to a considerably larger settlement. Pearson sought $1,500 per defendant for each of the estimated 12,000 days that the signs appeared in the dry cleaners. The judge's claims also included emotional damages, the cost of a rental car used to drive to another dry cleaner and legal fees -- even though Pearson represented himself. The total amount of the lawsuit? A whopping $67 million, which was later reduced to a still-outrageous $54 million.

Fortunately, a judge in the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the Chungs and ordered Pearson to pay the couple's court costs, and their attorney fees as well. In a further blow to Pearson, a committee refused to reappoint him to his job as an administrative law judge, in part because of the questionable behavior he displayed in the Chung case.

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