Entries Tagged as '$54 million dollar lawsuit'

$54 Million Pants Lawsuit Just About Over

Former Judge Roy Pearson has lost his bid to have his appeal heard by the entire bank (“en banc”) panel of appelate judges.  All 6 of the other judges on the panel refused to hear the case which the other 3 judges unanimously denied.  Pearson’s only recourse is to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Another pants Appeal…

Roy Pearson won’t go away quietly.  He is now asking for an en banc hearing of his appeal on the $54 million lawsuit over his lost pants.  Previously, 3 appellate judges rejected his appeal and now he wants all 9 judges on the circuit to hear his appeal.

Lost his Pants, Lost his Job, Lost his Lawsuit, Lost his Appeal

The saga of the $54 million lost pants lawsuit appears to finally be over.  As you will recall, a judge in DC sued a cleaner for $54 million for losing a pair of pants.  Roy Pearson subsequently lost the lawsuit and his job as a judge (in part due to the lawsuit).  Now his appeal has been denied.  Excerpted from the Legal Times:

The three-judge panel, consisting of Judges Noel Kramer and Phyllis Thompson and retired Judge Michael Farrell, ruled against Pearson on every argument he made at oral argument in October.

In the opinion, Kramer says Pearson’s argument that a “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign is an unconditional and unlimited warrant of satisfaction has no basis and that when trial Judge Judith Bartnoff rejected that claim, it showed “basic common sense.”

Kramer’s opinion says Pearson “defies logic” by arguing that the “Same Day Service” sign that the Chungs had in their store was a false statement unless same-day service was always and automatically provided.

Pearson still has a lawsuit pending against the District of Columbia for not being re-appointed to his administrative law judgeship.

The Pants

The appeal in the $54 million missing pants lawsuit was heard today.

The three-judge appeals panel peppered former judge Roy Pearson with questions about whether he was aware of other rulings in which a promise of “Satisfaction Guaranteed” meant that unsatisfied customers should be entitled to whatever damages they believe were appropriate.

“You’ve got to help us figure out what it means,” Judge Phyllis Thompson said. “You haven’t pointed me to a case which reaches a conclusion you would have us reach.”

Pearson did not provide any examples, but maintained that his lawsuit had merit under the city’s Consumer Protection Act.

Stay tuned.

It’s the pants?

They’re back again.  One of my favorite blogging topics, the (former) judge and his $54 million pants lawsuit.  I’ve written before about Judge Roy Pearson’s lawsuit against a dry cleaner for losing a pair of pants.  As you will recall, he lost his pants, lawsuit (and was required to pay the legal costs of the cleaners) and then his job.  The dry cleaner also went out of business as a result of the suit.

Judge Pearson has appealed both his job dismissal as well as the decision of the court in the pants matter.  Now, a 3 judge panel has agreed to hear his appeal on the missing pants in a hearing next month.

Has this case ever been through mediation?  How a lost pair of pants turned into all of this is beyond me.  In many cases, what people are suing over isn’t the core dispute at hand.  Perhaps something else transpired which has now spiraled out of control?

Mediation couldn’t hurt.  I’ll make some time if the parties want me to get involved.  :-)

Remember the $54 million lawsuit over a judge’s pants?

He’s baaaack.  I posted about Judge Roy Pearson and his $54 million lawsuit over a lost pair of pants.  Pearson lost his job shortly after he lost the case.  Now, he’s suing the District of Columbia for a mere $1 million, claiming wrongful dismissal over exposing alleged corruption in the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Oh, and he’s appealing the $54 million defeat.  When pants are worth more than a job…

How to Prevent a Lawsuit and the $54 million laptop

Since anyone can sue anyone else over anything, you really cannot prevent a lawsuit. There are people who are more prone to be litigious than others. However, you can take steps to minimize the chances of facing a lawsuit.

I mediate 50+ commercial cases a year. They all generally have one common theme: a breakdown in communication. One side feels as if they were not heard or were disrespected, then they get angry, and it starts a cycle of animosity that results in the lawsuit (and a difficult case to settle). And the breakdown in communication may not even be intentional. It can as simple as one side being out of town (unbeknownst to the other side) and not returning a phone call.

I’ve written previously about the infamous $54 million dry cleaning case. Now a woman is suing Best Buy for $54 million for losing her laptop. Unlike the seeming unfairness of the claim in the dry cleaning case (is a pair of pants really worth that?), this case was brought to get attention.

Courtesy of Sorry Works, a coalition of medical professionals who work to minimize malpractice suits, as well as MSNBC, the following article lays out the case. I’ve highlighted where Best Buy dropped the ball…and I’ll comment below about the customer’s conduct.

A lost laptop, a $54 million lawsuit: Tuesday, February 12
by Bob Sullivan
MSNBC.COM

Raelyn Campbell’s tale of frustration over her lost laptop has generated a high volume of comments, so the original story and the comments it solicited have been moved to this page to provide readers with easier access.

How much compensation does a consumer deserve for the loss of a laptop computer loaded with personal information? Raelyn Campbell figures it’s $54 million — if you throw in a little extra for lost time and frustration.

Six months after bringing a damaged laptop computer into a Best Buy electronics store for repairs, and three months after the firm admitted losing it, Campbell filed the whopper of a lawsuit recently in Washington, D.C., Superior Court.

Best Buy has told Campbell that her demands are unreasonable, and has tried to settle for far less. But Campbell said she didn’t start out making astronomical demands. Months of stalling and brush- offs by the company led her to the drastic measures, she said.

Best Buy spokeswoman Nissa French said the company couldn’t comment on Campbell’s story, citing the ongoing litigation. A lawyer for Best Buy did not return phone calls or e-mails.

When Campbell bought her new laptop in 2006 at a Best Buy store near her D.C. home, she said a clerk talked her into paying $300 for an extended warranty. She thought that was a fortunate choice when the computer’s on/off switch broke about a year later.

In May, she brought the computer back to the store and was told repairs would take two to six weeks. That wasn’t terribly convenient for Campbell, who works for a nonprofit Asia research firm and travels frequently overseas.

But six weeks turned out to be a wildly optimistic estimate.

The run-around
By late August, when she returned from a trip to Asia, she still had heard nothing from the company and started to get anxious. Her Aug. 24 complaint letter to the firm was filled with exasperation.

“On July 11, I contacted the (store’s) helpline and was instructed by ‘Agent David Goodfellow’ that it would be ‘ready within days,’” she wrote to the firm in a letter dated Aug. 24. “I called the service line again on July 19, and was told by a female agent that the computer appeared to be at the ‘Louisville Services Center since July 4.’ On July 25, I called again and spoke to Brenda, who transferred me to Daniel. Daniel confirmed that a ‘part had just been ordered. It should leave Louisville soon.’ …When I heard nothing further, I called yet again on Aug. 7 and spoke with Ashley. When she could not confirm any additional information, I asked to speak to a manager. I was told the manager, ‘Marsha,’ was in a meeting. I asked her to call ASAP. My call was not returned, so I called again on Aug. 9. I explained the whole situation yet again to ‘Cicero,’ who indicated that there seemed to be a problem.”

The problem was severe: “It never appears to have left the store,” she recounted Cicero as telling her. A few days later, he called back and admitted that the computer had been lost. The way she sees it, the other company clerks had been lying to her all along.

Cicero was considerate, Campbell said, and told her she would be compensated. But two weeks passed, and she hadn’t heard anything from the company. After several more weeks of fruitless phone calls, she received an offer she calls insulting: $900 for her trouble — in the form of a store gift card. Her blood boiled. She had paid more than $1,100 for the computer and the warranty. And she’d also lost thousands dollars worth of music and thousands of irreplaceable photos.

“It wouldn’t even cover the cost of replacing the computer, let alone the software, or my time,” she said of the gift card offer. “And why would I want to go spend money at their store again after the way I was treated?”

Campbell rejected the offer, instead demanding $2,100 in cash. She said her request went unanswered. In October, she urged family and friends to write to the store saying they wouldn’t shop there until the matter was resolved. To her surprise, the store’s general manager, Robert Delissio, replied to two of them.

“For every customer that has had an unpleasant experience I can show you hundreds who have had a great experience. I have been in retail for a long time and the one conclusion I have come to is that not every customer can be satisfied,” he wrote in an e-mail supplied by Campbell. “Does my store have opportunities? Absolutely! What I can say is that we strive to deliver the experience that every customer deserves to receive.”

Delissio didn’t respond to requests from msnbc.com to discuss the situation; Best Buy wouldn’t comment on the authenticity of the note.

Her frustration mounting, Campbell contacted the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office, which in turn contacted the store. In November, the store increased its compensation offer, this time offering a $1,100 refund to her credit card and a $500 gift card.

A bigger problem: ID theft
At the same time, she visited a legal aid office and was asked by a lawyer there whether she had any personal information on the computer?

“Of course I did,” she replied. “My tax returns were on there.”

Campbell was informed that she had a bigger problem than a lost computer – the potential for identity theft. She also learned that Best Buy was in violation of the district’s security breach notification law, which requires companies that have lost a consumer’s data to tell them. To date, she has not received that notification.

Campbell immediately enrolled in a $10-a-month identity theft monitoring service.

She also had reached the limit of her patience. In November, she filed her $54 million lawsuit against Best Buy — by herself, without legal representation.

The amount intentionally echoes another lawsuit that made headlines last year — a case involving a D.C. judge who sued a dry cleaner for $54 million over a lost pair of pants. That case was eventually dismissed.

Campbell freely admits she picked the same amount in an effort to attract media attention.

The lawsuit apparently got company’s attention, too. On Dec. 20, it offered $2,500 — in addition to the refund and the gift card — if she would withdraw her lawsuit and sign a confidentiality agreement.

But that’s not enough, Campbell said, because she has yet to hear any explanation for the lost computer.

It shouldn’t take a $54 million lawsuit to motivate Best Buy to address these issues,” she said. Her initial offer to settle for $2,100 has been withdrawn because her expenses have risen, including time spent filing a police report and consulting with lawyers about her case, she said. Concerns about identity theft also add to her potential damages, she said.

Wants an explanation
While Campbell has no expectation she will win a multimillion-dollar judgment, she feels she is entitled to damages related to store negligence and an “explanation as to how my computer could have been stolen from a secure area” of the store.

She also wants a promise from the company that it will train employees on privacy issues and on procedures for preventing loss or theft of returned items.

“I can’t help but wonder how many other people have had their computer stolen (or) lost by Best Buy and then been bullied into accepting lowball compensation offers for replacement expenses and no compensation for identity theft protection expenses,” she said.

A prompt and proper response by Best Buy would have staved off a lawsuit.  The customer felt ignored and unimportant.  However, the customer here needs to ask herself what she will ultimately accomplish at trial. All of her other “goals” will generally not be accomplished at trial. Most courts only award monetary damages. Best Buy’s latest offer should more than cover her damages, expenses and near term identity protection. If she wants these other non-monetary items, she needs to incorporate that in a settlement — but only one that Best Buy will agree to.

Everybody Loses

When I mediate a commercial case (or even a divorce case), a common misconception I run into is that litigants think that all judges and jurors act rationally and therefore, since they are right, will always believe and side with them over their adversaries.  The reality is that most judges are fair, as are most jurors, but everyone has biases and bad days.  As I point out to parties, that’s why Appellate Division and the Supreme Court were invented.

I always like to tell the story about the $54 million lawsuit in

Washington, DC over a lost pair of pants at a dry cleaner (I actually read this news article on my phone while waiting for an attorney to arrive at a mediation and used it in that mediation!).  Seems incredulous?  Surely this would be instantly thrown out of court.  Well, not only did it run through the court system but the plaintiff making the ludicrous claim was himself a judge!

Judge Roy Pearson lost his case against Custom Cleaners (and its owners, the Chung family).  However, what came afterward was even more profound.  First, the Chung’s cleaning business went under due to the burden of legal expenses in defending this case.  Second, Judge Pearson has now lost his job.  The Washington Post reports that a source close to the committee reviewing Judge Pearson for re-appointment did not turn down this re-appointment due to the dry cleaning case.  It was because “proceedings over which he had presided and found he did not demonstrate ‘appropriate judgment and judicial temperament,’ according a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.”  You would think one would be indicative of the other.

So, when you think you have nothing to lose, this case demonstrates that everyone has something to lose.