Most people have been in a situation where they have dealt with a small business that has made a mistake.
Damage to goods and items being lost are fairly common in the world of the small business person.
Unlike a lot of corporations, the people who run these businesses will usually go out of their way to try to solve these issues.
As annoying as things like this are, most of us will accept an apology and move on with our lives.
Not many people would try to drag the matter through the courts and try to get a truly astonishing amount of money from a business that almost certainly doesn’t have it.
However, this actually happened in 2007, and involved a furious judge.
Roy Pearson was a judge in Washington DC who decided the best course of action towards a family-run dry cleaner who lost a pair of his pants was to launch an enormous and hugely expensive lawsuit.
Pearson claimed the owners of the dry cleaner, Jin and Soo Chung, lost his pants (trousers for UK readers) after he bought them in for a $10.50 alteration.
He said they tried to give him back a cheap imitation pair of his $800 trousers.
The Chungs tried to settle the row by offering the judge what seemed to be a very generous $12,000 – 15 times the value of the trousers.
Pearson was not impressed and took the issue to court.
He argued signs claiming “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service” signs in the store gave an “unconditional guarantee” that meant he was entitled to a lot more money.
He launched an astonishing claim for $1,500 per defendant for each of the estimated 12,000 days the signs appeared in the store.
He also claimed emotional damage, the cost of a rental car he used to drive to another dry cleaner and his legal fees.
The total amount he claimed should be paid was an incredible $67 million, although that total was generously reduced to a mere $54 million.
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Did the Chungs have to pay?
Happily, common sense prevailed.
A judge in the district of Columbia ruled in favor of the Chungs.
Pearson was ordered to pay their court costs and attorney fees.
He appealed the decision and lost that as well.
He then tried to have the case heard again in a higher court, which was refused.
Finally, he tried to get it heard in the US Supreme Court – the highest court in the land, and that request was also rejected.
Things got even worse for him as a committee subsequently refused to give him his job as an administrative law judge back, partly due to his behavior during the lawsuit.
He sued over wrongful dismissal, and lost that too.
He was widely ridiculed for his actions, with the case cited as one of the worst examples of a frivolous lawsuit and an abuse of the legal system.
The Chungs closed the shop in September 2007.
They claimed the closure was as a result of the revenue and emotional strain from the lawsuit.
They owned a second shop and said they’d be focusing on that.