Judge continues to press pants suit

Sunday, July 15, 2007

WASHINGTON -- A customer who sued a dry cleaner for $54 million over a missing pair of pants has asked the judge who threw out the widely mocked case to reconsider, saying she committed a "fundamental legal error."

Roy L. Pearson, a local administrative law judge, argued Wednesday that District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff failed to address his legal claims. Bartnoff had ruled that the business owners did not violate the city's consumer protection law by failing to live up to his expectations of a "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign once displayed in the store.

"The court effectively substituted a guarantee of satisfaction with 'reasonable' limits and preconditions for the unconditional and unambiguous guarantee of satisfaction the defendant-merchant chose to advertise for seven years," Pearson wrote. "That was a fundamental legal error."

If Bartnoff rejects Pearson's motion, he could take the matter to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

The motion comes less than a week after the South Korean immigrant owners of Custom Cleaners asked the judge to order Pearson to cover $83,000 in legal fees.

The case began in 2005 when Pearson became an administrative law judge and brought several suits for alterations to Custom Cleaners.

A pair of pants from one suit was missing when he requested it two days later. A week later, the store owners said the pants had been found, but Pearson denied they were his and decided to sue.

Pearson's suit, which originally sought $67 million, was based on a strict interpretation of the city's consumer protection law. It also included damages for inconvenience, mental anguish and attorney's fees for representing himself.

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