Monday, June 25, 2007

Justice is Served (Medium-Well)

It looks like the owners of Custom Cleaners can stay in business, after all. Administrative law judge Roy L. Pearson wanted compensation for a pair of pants he claimed the cleaners had lost.

If Pearson had gotten what he wanted, Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung would have had to pay $64 million dollars, although he was willing to settle for $54 million. This is more than most of us can afford, and the Chung family is no exception.

Even though he cried in the courtroom, another judge, Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff, didn't buy Pearson's claim. "A reasonable consumer would not interpret 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands" was the way she put it, according to a news report.

Judge Bartnoff also told Pearson to pay the court costs of defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung. That's a little over $1,000 for photocopying, filing and similar expenses, the Chungs' attorney said. The Chungs have spent tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees, which may be reason for legal action later.

Court costs or legal fees, I'm not convinced that the Chungs will see their money. After the O. J. Simpson civil suit and other judicial debacles, I get the impression that these court-ordered payments depend largely on whether the guilty parties feel like paying.

The "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign that Pearson saw when he started this exercise in madness isn't on display in Custom Cleaners any more.

I'm glad to see evidence that screwball lawsuits don't necessarily succeed.

On the other hand, it would have been nice if something as obviously lunatic as Pearson's tearful plea hadn't been allowed to get past the starting gate.

(Small business isn't the only sort of enterprise with this sort of trouble: see Another Screwball Lawsuit?.)

And, a few other blogs on Judge Roy Pearon's vendetta against the Koreans:

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