The $65 Million Pant Suit

Ian P. Murphy |

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Washington, D.C., judge is suing his local drycleaner for an incredible $65 million over a lost pair of pants.
Plaintiff Roy Pearson filed papers last week against the operators of Custom Cleaners, a three-store operation in the Fort Lincoln neighborhood of Washington. The cleaners allegedly lost a favorite pair of pants he wished to wear on his first day on the bench, resulting in mental duress.
The dispute dates back to 2002, when Pearson claims Custom Cleaners lost a pair of his pants, and owners So Jin and Soo Chung reimbursed Pearson with a $150 check. Three years later, he says, Custom lost a second pair of pants he had brought in for alterations. Pearson demanded $1,150 to replace the suit they matched.
Custom’s operators eventually offered up to $12,000 in a series of settlement offers that Pearson and his counsel rejected. The District’s consumer-protection laws, he had found, entitled him to $1,500 per violation, per day.
To reach the $65 million figure, Pearson says he is entitled to $3,000 for each day Custom’s “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same-Day Service” signs (each considered a violation) were posted in the store since the pants disappeared — now at least 1,200.
Pearson is also suing to recover the costs incurred by 10 years of weekend car rentals needed to take his cleaning to another store, as well as an additional $1.4 million in mental anguish and legal fees. And he tripled damages by filing against Jin and Soo Chung and their son.
Pearson plans to call 63 witnesses in the civil trial, which is scheduled for June. The defense plans to introduce evidence that the lost pants were, in fact, found — but too late for the litigious judge and an escalating fight that has already brought them to the brink of bankruptcy.
“I would have never thought it would have dragged on this long,” a tearful Soo Chung told ABC News. “I don't want to live here anymore. It's been so difficult. I just want to go home, go back to Korea."

About the author

Ian P. Murphy

Freelance Writer

Ian P. Murphy is a freelance writer based in Chicago, and was the editor of American Drycleaner from 1999 to 2011.


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