As I have repeatedly noted, the only reason the Chungs can be said to have been vindicated is that Judge Roy Pearson is more delusional and less sinister than the typical trial-lawyer extortionist. Had Judge Pearson accepted the $12,000 settlement the Chungs felt forced to offer between the expense of litigation and the small risk of Pearson mounting a case that successfully resulted in the giant fines imposed by DC consumer-fraud law, Pearson would have had a five-digit profit, and the Chungs would be out tens of thousands of dollars in litigation and settlement expense without any hope of recoupment. As Michael Greve demonstrates in “Harm-Less Lawsuits”, this is more than hypothetical: in consumer-fraud lawsuits alone, billions of dollars have been extracted from innocent defendants.
DMI’s Kia Franklin’s defense of her claim that the travesty of justice we have seen in Pearson shows that the system works? “Now, had Pearson collected the $12,000 settlement, we would have a whole new hypothetical and a whole new set of questions about the terms of the settlement (Would we have known the settlement amount? Would they have been able to publicize this? What were the lawyers’ strategies?) and the consequences thereof. So we can’t prematurely say that it would pay off for him.” Franklin goes on to deny that trial lawyer abuse even exists—a perhaps necessary position for her to take, given that the top of any list of abusers would include the indicted law firm Milberg Weiss, which funds her fellowship, in part from the successful extortion of billions of dollars using the same in terrorem tactics as Pearson.
As Peter Nordberg notes in the Overlawyered comments, “If [Pearson] is indeed representative, there should be thousands of cases just like it, and we may as well get to discussing those.” And indeed we should.