Earlier, I wrote about an example of lawsuit abuse under “consumer protection” laws.
D.C. Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson sued a Korean drycleaner couple for more than $65 million for losing his pants and posting signs that say “satisfaction guaranteed” and “same day service.” He sued under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act (DCPPA), which allows a plaintiff to demand thousands of dollars in statutory damages and attorneys fees even for conduct that caused no economic loss.
Now, however, he has revised his demand for money downward to $54 million from a peak of $67 million. He is now suing only over the signs, not the lost pair of pants, which were apparently worth only $13 million. However, the dry cleaners continue to run up big legal bills fighting his lawsuit.
Although an ethics complaint has been filed against Pearson over his abusive lawsuit, which calls into question his common sense and fitness to be a judge, the D.C. government apparently refuses to remove him from the bench, claiming he has a First Amendment right to bring his ridiculous lawsuit.
I explain why the freedom of petition guaranteed by the First Amendment does not immunize Pearson from discipline here.
Ted Frank of AEI, who sympathizes with the victims of this lawsuit, raises the unsettling possibility here that the D.C. government may legitimately fear a lawsuit by Pearson under Washington, D.C.’s bizarre employment laws if it does terminate him, even though the D.C. government would probably win such a lawsuit in the end.
(Ted was probably alluding to the D.C. Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on all sorts of relevant characteristics, such as what college you attended, whether you belong to an extreme political party, and — if a recent D.C. Council ordinance is not overturned by Congress — whether you have a criminal record).