Archive for May 4th, 2007

04
May
07

This is a disgrace

A judge in Washington, D.C. is suing a family-owned dry cleaners for $67 million because they lost his pants.  Let that sink in for awhile.

Fortunately, this complete abuse of the legal system has provoked much outrage and has led a number of people to call for his judicial appointment to not be renewed (it is up for renewal soon) or his outright disbarment.  Also, there has been an outpouring of support for the owners of the business, who are immigrants from Korea.  If you feel so compelled, you can contribute to their defense fund at http://www.customcleanersdefensefund.com/.

In many ways I feel like the American legal system explicitly enables the powerful to extort money from the lowly.  It works like this (if you are among the lowly): 1) You get served with a lawsuit.  2) You realize it will cost you tens of thousands of dollars (if not more) to defend yourself.  3) You receive an offer from the plaintiff that they would be willing to settle for single-digit thousands of dollars.  4) Despite no actual culpability on your part, you choose to settle because it’s the only option that won’t leave you bankrupt and potentially disrupt your life for years.  So, the case never goes to court because you can’t afford for it to go to court and the plaintiff scurries off, laughing all the way to the bank.  Your only defense against this is to pray that you never get served with a lawsuit like this.

Interestingly, this judge may have actually done the tort reform movement a great service.  In his extreme greed and malice, he has produced a lawsuit, the absurdity of which numbs the faculties.  I can only hope that the unfathomable senselessness of this lawsuit will motivate the enaction of legislation that puts an end to what can only be seen as bullying and legally codified extortion.  In the meantime, I hope that the judge who hears this case either dismisses it, or has it transferred to small claims court, which is where it belongs.




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