In truth, I am no fan of most dry cleaners. I have long suspected them of being in league with the less savory elements of the garment industry, losing or ruining favorite items simply so that they will have to be replaced more often. Why else would buttons so often be lost or smashed despite explicit requests to protect them, leather items returned with pins stuck through them, or shirts pressed with so much extra starch and so many strange creases that they resemble a grammar school papier mache project? And that's not even considering the strange triangle-shaped rips, peculiar purple spots, and all the manner of colorful lint periodically added to previously respectable garments. Or the environmental effects of all of those chemicals and plastic covers. (My current dry cleaner is usually conscientious, if expensive, but even that organzation has been known to err. The test is, of course, whether an error is quickly and professionally corrected.)
That being said, suing one's dry cleaner for USD $54 million over one pair of pants goes too far. Certainly Judge Judith Bartnoff thought so, tacitly ruling yesterday that Judge Roy L. Pearson, Jr., was not so much saving the world from unscrupulous cleaners as making a mockery of the justice system with his extreme lawsuit. Yes, his suit trousers were lost. Perhaps they were also found -- unless the grey pair proffered by Custom Cleaners were merely a poor substitute, as Pearson claims. Either way, settlement offers of $3,000, then $4,600, and finally $12,000 should have sufficed.
We'll have to take the court's word on whether the pants that Pearson refused to accept were his original pair or a not-so-clever copy. But one thing is clear, with all due respect to defendants Soo and Jin Chung: No reasonable consumer would ever believe that a sign reading, "Satisfaction Guaranteed," in a dry cleaning establishment is the real thing.