Ex-Administrative Judge Loses Appeal in $54M Lost Pants Suit
Updated: A former administrative law judge who claims a dry cleaners lost his pants now faces another loss: the appeal of his $54 million lawsuit against the establishment.
Today the District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed a decision in favor of the cleaners, the Legal Profession Blog reports.
Former administrative judge Roy Pearson had claimed Custom Cleaners failed to live up to its “satisfaction guaranteed” promise when it lost his pants, but a Washington, D.C., judge ruled there was no violation of consumer protection law. On appeal, Pearson argued the promise was “very subjective” and with “no parameters at all.”
The appeals court opinion (PDF) said Pearson failed to establish that the signs constituted false or misleading statements, and also said he did not even meet his burden of proof to establish the cleaners lost the pants. Pearson had claimed the pants eventually returned to him were not his, but the court noted many of the pants he took to the cleaners over the course of a few weeks had previously been worn by Pearson’s son and he could have been mistaken.
The appeals court said the trial judge showed “basic common sense” when she ruled that the “satisfaction guaranteed” sign should be considered in terms of how it would be understood by a reasonable consumer. The court cited a Wisconsin case holding that the phrase “quality satisfaction guaranteed” is a classic example of puffery on which no one would rely.