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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pants defendants make Pearson an offer he ought not refuse

This is brilliant:

The dry cleaners aren't pressing their case against the Pants Judge.

In a surprise turn yesterday, the small-business owners sued by D.C. Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson withdrew their demand that he pay nearly $83,000 for their legal bills, saying that enough money had been raised from supporters to cover the expenses and that they want to end the fighting.

The cleaners want Pearson, who could soon be out of a job, to do the same.

In the motion filed in D.C. Superior Court, the owners of Custom Cleaners ask Pearson, who lost his famous $54 million lawsuit two months ago, to call a halt to the legal proceedings. If he intends to appeal a judge's rejection of his lawsuit over a supposedly missing pair of pants, he has until tomorrow to file notice.

"With their losses and expenses now almost completely recouped, all Defendants want to do is make this case go away," Christopher Manning, an attorney for Soo Chung and her family, wrote in the seven-page motion. "Defendants' lives have been devastated and they want nothing more than to quietly return to running their dry cleaning business." ...

In case he does appeal, the Chungs  are reserving their right to seek attorneys' fees for any future proceedings.

The reason this is brilliant, instead of just altruistically admirable, is that the chances that the Chungs ever would have effectively collected on their award of attorneys' fees, assuming their sanctions motion were granted, were very remote. Odds are that Pearson is soon to be unemployed again. Even if he hangs on to his civil service job (meaning that there'd be a ready wage stream for the Chungs to garnish), Pearson undoubtedly would have appealed, dragging things out and inflicting more attorneys' fees on the Chungs that they very likely couldn't collect. And if Pearson's appeals ultimately failed, he probably would have declared bankruptcy.

This move, by contrast, creates a dramatic incentive for Pearson to drop everything and sink back into the slime of his pathetic existence. The Chungs cauterize their own fee bloodflow. And they've made their point in the best dramatic fashion possible. They're already heroes of the tort reform movement. And no appellate opinion is going to do better than restate the bench-slap that the trial judge already administered to Pearson.

Pearson, of course, has the proverbial fool for a client. Not just an ordinary, garden variety fool, but a magnificent, pustulating, gibbering fool. There's still, therefore, a significant chance that he'll reject the Chungs' offer and go ahead with his notice of appeal.

Regardless, though, my hat's off to the Chungs and their lawyer for this move. Is there a German equivalent for "realpolitik" that would apply to litigation? "Realrechtsstreit?" "Realgerichtsverfahren"? Anyway, on the Chungs' part, that's what this is a fine example of.


UPDATE (Wed Aug 15 @ 1:25am): Sure enough, Pearson has proved me right by rejecting the Chungs' offer.

Posted by Beldar at 06:04 AM in Law (2007) | Permalink


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(1) nk made the following comment | Aug 14, 2007 10:38:54 AM | Permalink

Rebuilding goodwill. A small business lives and dies by it.

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