Wednesday, June 13, 2007

So Just How Litigious Are We? Or, The $54 Million Dollar Pants

Hannah has her first dance recital in a couple of weeks and her costume requires big, curly hair. Hannah's hair is straight, so I bought a curling iron, something I haven't owned since high school. Packaged together with the curling iron was a card warning that the curling iron was a burn hazard and to keep it away from children. That part I understand. But on the reverse was "CAUTION--THIS PRODUCT CAN BURN EYES."

No really, look:

There can only be one reason that notice was required: Someone tried to curl her eyelashes. And got burned. And then sued because someone should have mentioned that sticking a hot piece of metal in your eye might hurt.

This got me thinking about what's been called the year's most frivolous lawsuit:

A former administrative law judge, Roy Pearson, is suing the owners of a Washington, DC, dry cleaner because they lost his pants. His 54 million dollar pants. He claims that these pants were part of a $1,100 suit. The rest of the $54 million is for his pain and suffering. No attorney fees since he's representing himself. And no, it does not appear that the judge required any type of psychiatric screening before allowing the lawsuit to go forward.

Technically, the case isn't about the pants. It's that the dry cleaner didn't live up to their satisfaction guarantee. As reported by Marc Fisher, live blogging the trial,

"Pearson told the defense lawyer that if the tables were turned and he were in the place of the Chung family, the owners of the Northeast Washington cleaners who purportedly lost Pearson's pants, he would have immediately written a check for $1,150--the replacement value of the Hickey Freeman suit to which the pants belonged--to provide the satisfaction that the store's "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign promised.

It took more than 10 minutes and numerous attempts by both Manning and Judge Judith Bartnoff to get Pearson to answer a question about whether anyone has the right to walk into any cleaners and claim $1,150 simply by saying that their suit had been lost. Finally, Pearson said that the law requires that "The merchant would have an obligation to honor their demand."

"So your answer is Yes?" Manning asked.

"Yes," Pearson said." "

Not to be cynical, but it's only June. Calling this the year's most frivolous lawsuit is just begging for someone to top it. Any takers?

Only in America, baby.


Jessica M said...

This is what Jose refers to as "the new American Dream": sue someone for millions. Obviously, he has yet to come up with his claim....

Melanie K said...

ah--but has he tried putting a hot curling iron in his eye? :)

ThomasK said...

Hooray, Judge Bartnoff has ruled against Pearson, and he has to pay court costs for the dry cleaners to boot. Justice served!