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Archive for June, 2007

Today in consumer protection

I always enjoy a novel litigation theory. Here’s one from D.C. via MSNBC and AP:

The customer is always right, said a judge who testified Wednesday in his $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner who lost his pants.

Administrative law judge Roy L. Pearson argued that he is acting in the interest of all city residents against poor business practices. Attorneys for the dry cleaner call his claim “outlandish.”

The attorneys delivered closing arguments Wednesday, and Judge Judith Bartnoff said she would rule by the end of next week.

Under cross-examination, Pearson said the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Act, under which he is suing Custom Cleaners, should grant a customer whatever he or she wants if there is a “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign.

Pearson, 57, originally sued Custom Cleaners for about $65 million by adding up violations under the act and almost $2 million in common law claims. He is no longer seeking damages related to the pants, focusing his claims on two signs in the shop that have since been removed.

How much is one man’s satisfaction worth? In this case, the plaintiff, to his credit, has higher aspirations for an award:

Pearson said that he wants only $2 million in damages for himself — for his mental anguish and inconvenience — plus $500,000 in attorney’s fees for representing himself. Anything more that Bartnoff might award him would go into a fund “to educate people of their rights under the Consumer Protection Act,” he said.

After closing arguments, Bartnoff said she was taking the issues in the case seriously.

“I do think that this is a very important statute to protect to consumers, and I also think it’s important that statutes like this are not misused,” she said.

Consumer protection is a very important issue. And satisfaction is clearly very valuable.