A fundraiser was held in D.C. last night for the Chungs, who were the defendants in the $65-million-pants lawsuit filed (and lost) by Roy Pearson. It took place at the US Chamber of Commerce building and was co-hosted by the Chamber and by the American Tort Reform Association. (Full disclosure: my firm represents both of these entities.) The fundraiser added to the $64,000 collected to date in order to help offset the Chungs' legal bills, now $83,000 and counting.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a press conference was held during which Mr. Chung "stood stoically next to the podium, eyes downcast, holding the offending pair of now-neatly-pressed pants firmly in front of him" as his attorney spoke about how the lawsuit had turned the "American Dream" into the "American Nightmare." Others spoke as well.
An eyewitness account from a colleague:
Sherman Joyce, President of ATRA, raised awareness of how the District's consumer-protection law allowed the value of a misplaced pair of pants to grow to $54 million, nearly driving the Chungs out of business and causing them great anguish over the course of two years of litigation. Joyce called for the DC Council to learn from this situation and reform the District's law so that others are not subject to this abuse. Lisa Rickard, President of the Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform, called attention to the impact of frivolous litigation on small businesses.
The entire Chung family was present. When called to address the crowd, the Chungs each offered a very humble and brief thank you to the hundreds (not sure of the total tally -- would guess it was about 200-300) in attendance for their support. The Chungs' daughter in law, who helped as an interpreter during the litigation, discussed the impact of the ordeal on the family.
The $54 million pants were displayed in prominent fashion at the podium throughout the event for all to view, guarded by the watchful eye of a patrolman with a shiny gold badge. He never left their side during the entirety of the event. I wouldn't be surprised if they arrived and departed the event by armored truck.
Yes, The Pants themselves were in attendance, guarded closely by a security guard charged with ensuring that their future value to the Smithsonian is carefully preserved. The guard would likely have taken a dim view of another colleague's idea that even more money could be raised if the Chungs allowed people to try on the Pants and have their picture taken wearing them. "I'd pay good cash money for that," he said. I would too, but then I'd also like to sign my own name on the Declaration of Independence. We can't treat our cultural heirlooms that way, at least not if we're likely to get caught.
The WSJ also posted a copy of Plaintiff's Exhibit 13(c), a flyer that Pearson posted all over his neighborhood seeking support for his claims against the cleaners. It doesn't appear that he got too much support -- although he did have a few (somewhat confused) witnesses show up at trial -- but the Chungs said they believe the flyers harmed their business. Should Pearson try the flyer tactic again in future cases, which I don't recommend, I would suggest that he use the same font throughout, which has the advantage of making you look somewhat less crazy than you actually are.
Today should be the last day for Pearson to file an appeal, if he is really going to do that. It appears that the relevant commission still has not decided whether Pearson will be reappointed to the administrative law bench for a second (and this time ten-year) term. Nor has it yet explained why that decision is even mildly difficult.
Link: WSJ Law Blog