Washington, DC—The American Association for Justice (AAJ) today called for a disciplinary investigation of District of Columbia Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson Jr., who brought a $65 million lawsuit against a family-owned dry cleaning business for losing his pants.
(A copy of AAJ CEO Jon Haber’s letter is below.)
In his letter, Haber stated: “Our court system has no place for those who abuse the instruments of justice for personal gain or the intimidation of others.”
In addition to the call for an investigation, AAJ President Lewis S. “Mike” Eidson stated “As attorneys who are committed to helping Americans receive justice throughout courts, we are outraged by the very idea of a $65 million claim over a pair of pants. It is not only ridiculous—it is offensive to our values.”
Eidson and Haber have also personally pledged to contribute to a defense fund established to support the dry cleaners.
In a message to AAJ board members today (below), Eidson emphasized that the unique nature of this case should not be used to undermine the important role of the nation’s civil justice system. “This case is clearly atypical and we cannot allow those who oppose us on fundamental issues of access to the civil justice system to turn this case into an indictment of that system,” said Eidson. “Our mission continues to be to ensure Americans have a level playing field in our courtrooms—even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations.”
Jon Haber letter to District of Columbia Bar Association
May 8, 2007
Mr. James Sandman
District of Columbia Bar Association
1250 H St. NW, Sixth Floor
Washington DC 20005
Dear Mr. Sandman:
As a member of the District of Columbia Bar, I believe that the widely reported actions of Mr. Roy Pearson, Jr. in pursuing a $65 million dollar lawsuit against a local dry cleaning business appear to constitute a serious abuse of the civil justice system and warrant a disciplinary inquiry from the Bar.
Media reports indicate that Mr. Pearson, an administrative law judge and member of the District of Columbia Bar has relentlessly pursued his lawsuit against Custom Cleaners, a family-owned dry cleaner, for temporarily misplacing a pair of his suit pants. Despite an apparently generous settlement offer that includes the return of the once-missing suit pants, news reports indicate that Mr. Pearson has maintained his action over a two-year period, filed thousands of pages in documents and made damage claims that appear to be farfetched and unjustified. Moreover, it appears that Mr. Pearson’s actions in this matter are consistent with his behavior in prior legal disputes, where he has followed courses of action both that appear both vexatious and disproportionate to any legitimate claim.
The American civil justice system ought to be a point of pride, both to the public and the profession. It enables those who, in good faith, believe that they have been wronged to pursue justice and have an impartial tribunal resolve responsibility. Only in such a courtroom can everyone—regardless of wealth, connections or political clout—stand on a level playing field of justice.
Our court system has no place for those who abuse the instruments of justice for personal gain or the intimidation of others, rather than just compensation. That Mr. Pearson occupies a position of public trust as an administrative law judge, in addition to his membership in the Bar, further intensifies the dishonor that his apparent actions have cast on both the system and the profession. As attorneys, we have a special obligation to preserve the integrity of our civil justice system.
Our commitment must be to strengthening the civil justice system so that deserving individuals can get justice, wrongdoers are held accountable, and efforts to weaken basic legal protections are repelled.
For actions inconsistent with the oath and office of our learned profession, I urge that the District of Columbia Bar investigate this matter and take appropriate disciplinary action.
Chief Executive Officer, American Association for Justice
Lewis S. “Mike” Eidson message to American Association for Justice Board of Governors
Dear American Association for Justice Board Member:
Let me bring you up to speed on the latest on the family-owned dry cleaner in Washington, DC, being sued for $65 million over a pair of pants.
First, I want to repeat what I said Friday: As attorneys who are committed to helping Americans receive justice throughout courts, we are outraged by the very idea of a $65 million claim over a pair of pants. It is not only ridiculous—it is offensive to our values.
Today, Jon Haber, AAJ CEO and DC Bar Association member, has sent a letter to the Bar calling for a disciplinary investigation of Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson Jr. in light of his actions in pursuing this case. A copy of Jon’s letter is attached.
I am also personally making a contribution to the defense fund, as is Jon. If you wish to contribute, the fund can be found at http://www.customcleanersdefensefund.com/
However, I continue to believe that the news media is sensationalizing this case beyond reasonable bounds. This case is clearly atypical and we cannot allow those who oppose us on fundamental issues of access to the civil justice system to turn this case into an indictment of that system. Our mission continues to be to ensure Americans have a level playing field in our courtrooms—even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations.
Lewis S. “Mike” Eidson
President, American Association for Justice