Dear Judge Butler and Commissioners Rigsby, Levine and Wilner:
On behalf of the American Tort Reform Association, which works to combat lawsuit abuse, I urge you to carefully reconsider the reappointment of Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson Jr. to a 10-year term, scheduled to commence in three days on May 2.
As you are almost surely aware by now, thanks to extensive local and national media coverage, Judge Pearson has chosen to exploit the District’s well-intentioned but loosely worded Consumer Protection and Procedures Act in suing a family-owned D.C. dry cleaner for more than $65 million — over a lost pair of suit pants.
Though the pants have long since been found and made available to him, Judge Pearson has stubbornly continued to waste precious Superior Court resources in a clearly misguided effort to extort a hardworking family that provides a service to its community and tax revenue to the District government.
In a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post, former National Labors Relations Board chief administrative law judge Melvin Welles urged “any bar to which Mr. Pearson belongs to immediately disbar him and the District to remove him from his position as an administrative law judge.”
To those of us who carefully study the litigation industry’s growing abuse of consumer protection laws around the country (see ATRA general counsel Victor Schwartz’s recent article from Executive Counsel magazine, “Consumer Protection Acts Are a Springboard for Lawsuit Abuse,” enclosed) and to everyday D.C. taxpayers who collectively provide Pearson with a considerable salary, his persistence in this lawsuit raises serious question about his capacity to serve the city as a “fair, impartial, effective, and efficient” judge, as required by the Office of Administrative Hearings Establishment Act.
If Pearson goes ahead with his lawsuit, any party who comes before him in future administrative hearings could understandably lack confidence in his judgment and judicial temperament. Furthermore, this case will become fodder for late-night comics, various members of Congress and other assorted critics of D.C. government if this case, scheduled for trial June 11, remains in the headlines.
Judicial temperament is a critical characteristic of an outstanding jurist. Any individual who chooses to pursue a case such as Pearson’s, at a minimum, calls into question his or her’s. As you consider his reappointment, we strongly urge you to examine closely his judicial temperament and decide whether it is sufficient to serve the people of the District of Columbia properly as an administrative law judge.
Pearson has a litigation history; commenter Monica points us to this reported opinion stemming from his divorce.
Update, May 2, from ABC News:
[The Chungs] have spent thousands of dollars defending themselves against Pearson’s lawsuit.
“It’s not humorous, not funny and nobody would have thought that something like this would have happened,” Soo Chung told ABC News through an interpreter.
Her husband agreed.
“It’s affecting us first of all financially, because of all the lawyers’ fees,” Jin Chung said. “For two years, we’ve been paying lawyer fees… we’ve gotten bad credit as well, and secondly, it’s been difficult mentally and physically because of the level of stress.”