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A customer who sued a dry cleaner on claims that they lost his pants has now lost his entire suit – a $54 million one. A District of Columbia Superior Court judge Monday rejected Roy L. Pearson’s lawsuit that took a dry cleaner’s promise of “Satisfaction Guaranteed” to its most litigious extreme. Pearson, an administrative law judge, won’t get a penny. 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 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 – as well as damages for inconvenience, mental anguish and attorney fees for representing himself. But 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 inside the store. “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. Bartnoff wrote that Pearson, an administrative law judge, also failed to prove that the pants the dry cleaner tried to return were not the pants he took in. Bartnoff ordered Pearson to pay clerical court costs of about $1,000 to defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung. A motion to recover the Chungs’ tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees will be considered later. “Judge Bartnoff has spoken loudly in suggesting that, while consumers should be protected, abusive lawsuits like this will not be tolerated,” the Chung’s attorney, Chris Manning, said in a statement. “Judge Bartnoff has chosen common sense and reasonableness over irrationality and unbridled venom.” Speaking to a mob of reporters from at least nine different countries outside their dry cleaners Monday, the Chungs said they held no hard feelings toward Pearson. “If he wants to continue using our services, then, yes, we will accept him,” Soo Chung, a Korean immigrant, said through a translator. Chung later told The Associated Press that at one point during the two-year nightmare, her mother-in-law called from Korea with a proverb: “Don’t feed hate with hate.” “I decided to listen to my mother-in-law,” Chung said. Pearson, who came to court during the two-day trial earlier this month carrying what he claimed was the pantsless jacket of the suit, did not respond to a call and an e-mail seeking comment. The case began in 2005 when Pearson became a judge and brought several suits for alterations to Custom Cleaners in Washington. A pair of pants from one suit was missing when he requested it two days later, but turned up a few days after that. Those charcoal gray, cuffed pants were used as evidence in the trial, but Pearson broke down in tears remembering the argument in which he insisted he doesn’t wear pants with cuffs. The story garnered international attention and renewed calls for litigation reform. “This case was giving American justice a black eye around the world, and it was all the more upsetting because it was a judge and lawyer who was bringing the suit,” said Paul Rothstein, a Georgetown University law professor. Rothstein said Monday’s ruling “restores one’s confidence in the legal system.” Calls have come from around the world for Pearson to be disbarred and lose his position on the bench. The city’s chief administrative law judge is still considering Pearson’s 10-year reappointment.

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