Breaking: Pearson loses pants suit

by Walter Olson on June 25, 2007

A judge has ruled in favor of the defendant Chung family in the mishandled-dry-cleaning case, and awarded them (relatively minor) court costs. Pearson is expected to appeal; the Chungs’ lawyer says the family expects to ask eventually that he also be made to pay their attorney fees, but D.C. law sets the bar for such a request relatively high, so it’s by no means something they can count on. Coverage: Washington Post and its Marc Fisher and OFF/beat blogs, more. Earlier: here and here.

More: And here’s word of a fundraiser for the Chungs’ legal defense, next month in D.C., sponsored by the Chamber and ATRA.

{ 6 comments }

1 Ima Fish 06.25.07 at 1:53 pm

Everyone should read the opinion here. The judge did a great job of explaining the case without any of the journalistic distortions and simplifications. This was not an asinine and ludicrous pant lawsuit. It was an even more asinine and ludicrous sign lawsuit.

It is my subjective opinion that Pearson is loony. In reading the opinion you’ll learn how he acted nearly the same way in his divorce case too.

2 Todd Rogers 06.25.07 at 8:46 pm

Perhaps a solypsis would be appropriate:

Pearson lost his suit and the pants that begot it.

3 Amsterdamsky 06.26.07 at 4:20 am

The fact that the plaintiff was a JUDGE should scare the pants off of all americans.

4 Carolyn Elefant 06.27.07 at 6:39 am

What I find odd is why it costs so much money to defend against a frivolous suit. If a suit is truly frivolous, shouldn’t the legal fees to oppose it be minimal?

5 David Nieporent 06.27.07 at 7:10 am

Yes, the fees to oppose a frivolous suit “should” be minimal — in an aspirational sense. But they’re not.

When someone sues you for $65, the legal fees to oppose it are minimal. When someone sues you for $65 million, you go all out to fight it, no matter how frivolous, because even a 1% chance of losing is too much.

And because the modern theory of our judicial system is that it’s better to have 100 silly suits rather than risk that one legitimate plaintiff will be denied his day in court, judges are incredibly reluctant to toss out cases before discovery.

6 TheMasonic 06.27.07 at 1:51 pm

Litigation, frivolous or not, is always expensive and should be minimized from a judicial and taxpayer’s perspective but the incentive structure for a plaintiff argues against this. For example, when attorneys’ fees are rarely assessed to the loser (as seen in the lost pants case) or when the plaintiff can up and move forums when they fear an unfavorable verdict (cue Anna Nicole Smith), then it creates perverse incentives to sue everyone and take as much of the court and defendant’s time as possible.

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