WSJ Law Blog has the (long) opinion and (short) judgment in the case. Professor Bainbridge notes the pertinence of the legal principle of “puffery”, under which Pearson was no more justified in demanding the literal enforcement of the Chungs’ “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign than would other customers be justified in suing United Air Lines after a grumpy flight for not providing “friendly skies”, Exxon for not putting a genuine “tiger in your tank”, Fox News for being less than “fair and balanced”, and so forth. Amygdala observes, of the $12,000 settlement offer that Pearson spurned from the Chungs:
Which is to say, if you’re a lawyer, or just knowledgeable about legal phrasing and documents, and willing to spend a certain amount of time generating and mailing documents, you can wind up being offered $12,000 if you’re sufficiently obnoxious and persistent, no matter how feeble, frivolous, and meretricious your claim is.
That’s a well-known, old, story, to be sure, but still worthy of note now and again.
And the WSJ Law Blog has an earlier interview with the Chungs’ lawyer, Christopher Manning, including this pertinent excerpt:
How’d all the publicity start?
A local neighborhood newspaper first picked up the story. Then WJLA – the local ABC affiliate — picked up the story, with me holding the pants. After that, Marc Fisher’s [Washington Post] column ran in late April which really set it off. [The story has since been featured on Today, Nightline, Good Morning America, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN and a host of other networks.]
Gosh. You mean the pants suit didn’t become a big worldwide story, as some of our friends in the trial bar have hinted, just because those nefarious legal reformers were looking for a far-out case to publicize? Next you’ll be telling us that Stella Liebeck’s McDonald’s hot-coffee award became a huge story because it was something the press found newsworthy and the public wanted to talk about, rather than because reformers plotted deep into the night to hype it.