A judge ruled Monday that no pair of pants is worth $54 million, rejecting a lawsuit that took a dry cleaner’s promise of “Satisfaction Guaranteed” to its most litigious extreme.
Roy L. Pearson became a worldwide symbol of legal abuse by seeking jackpot justice from a simple complaint—that a neighborhood dry cleaners lost the pants from a new suit and tried to give him a pair that were not his.
His claim, reduced from $67 million, was based on a strict interpretation of the city’s consumer protection law—which imposes fines of $1,500 per violation, per day—as well as damages for inconvenience, mental anguish and attorney’s fees for representing himself.
But District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled that the owners of Custom Cleaners did not violate the consumer protection law by failing to live up to Pearson’s expectations of the “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign once displayed in the store window.
“A reasonable consumer would not interpret ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer’s unreasonable demands,” the judge wrote.