Cleaning up

Not all of the interesting legal news on Monday originated in the Supreme Court.

Also Monday, a judge who made a mockery of the American justice system with his outrageous $67 million lawsuit over a dispute with his dry cleaner finally got called for having his pants down.

For those who hadn’t heard about his fiasco, here’s a recap:

Roy L. Pearson, an administrative law judge in Washington, D.C., claimed that the owners of Custom Cleaners violated the city’s consumer protection law when they failed to live up to the “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign posted in the store after losing a pair of his suit pants.

Instead of working something out with the store’s owners, Mr. Pearson went nuclear, suing for $67 million, later adjusted to $54 million. Amazingly, the case actually went to trial earlier this month.

But the trouser gambit didn’t pay off for Mr. Pearson. Instead, District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff took him to the cleaners.

“A reasonable consumer would not interpret ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer’s unreasonable demands,” Judge Bartnoff ruled.

This case should have been tossed on its ear from the get-go — or relegated to small claims court — but at least the judge ordered Mr. Pearson to pay the business owner’s court costs. And if Judge Bartnoff really wants to send a message about frivolous litigation, she’ll hammer Mr. Pearson with responsibility for the merchant’s attorney fees when that matter is considered later.

Then, the local Bar Association should jump in. Mr. Pearson doesn’t belong anywhere near a courtroom, let alone on the bench.

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