Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Civil Justice System Works

Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
Media Release
(404) 376-3495, Rebecca DeHart

Atlanta-- The administrative law judge, Roy Pearson of Washington DC, who sued a drycleaners over a pair of lost pants—lost in court today. He was ordered to pay all of the court costs that the owners of the drycleaners incurred throughout the ordeal.

This news comes as no surprise to the President of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA), Joe Watkins. “Just as we anticipated, the Civil Justice System worked. The Judge presiding over the case ruled in favor of the drycleaners—and against the man at the center of this ridiculous business dispute.”

Pearson filed suit against the drycleaners for $54 million after alleging that they lost a pair of his pants. “The suit itself was ludicrous. As an attorney for 30 years, I am aware of the dangers that this type of sensationalism can generate. The general public cannot help but be engrossed in its details. Now that the decision has been reached, the general public can bask in what is just another example of the Civil Justice System accurately and fairly working for us all,” said Watkins.

The attorney representing the drycleaners was Chris Manning, a member of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the national affiliate of GTLA. AAJ has been sharply critical of Judge Pearson’s lawsuit. In April, AAJ CEO Jon Haber called on the District of Columbia Bar Association to conduct a disciplinary investigation of Judge Pearson for his conduct in this matter. Haber and AAJ President Lewis “Mike” Eidson pledged to support the defendant’s defense fund and encouraged the AAJ membership to also contribute.

Judge Bartnoff, who presided over the case, ordered Pearson to pay the court costs of defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung, the owners of the drycleaners.

“It is our hope that the resolution of this case garners as much media attention as it did when it was filed. The public deserves to know how the Civil Justice System works on their behalf,” said Watkins.

# # #

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Lost Pair of Pants

By: Joe Watkins
President of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association

Reading and hearing about the D.C. Administrative Law Judge who is suing his dry cleaners over a pair of lost pants is distressing, to say the least. It's obviously ridiculous, but this lawsuit is not only silly -- it's dangerous.

Cases like this give lawyers a bad name. Big Business and others who are out to dismantle the Civil Justice System jump all over these tabloid-like stories as proof of why we need to eliminate corporate accountability. They say our legal system is out of control. One lawsuit like this one automatically makes every lawsuit "frivolous." And nothing could be farther from the truth.

As an attorney for 30 years and as President of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, I am aware of the dangers that this type of sensationalism can generate. The story is so far-fetched that the general public cannot help but be engrossed in its details.

What the public does not get to hear enough about are the everyday cases that go in front of judges and juries that uphold the Constitution's promise of justice for all. More truly newsworthy are cases that have assisted in pulling dangerous pharmaceuticals off the shelves of drugstores, cases that have forced clothing manufacturers to discontinue flammable children's pajamas, and cases that led to greater ingenuity in auto manufacturing when side-saddle gas tanks were found to be explosive. These are just a few instances among many where the Civil Justice System protects us all.

The public also rarely sees stories about the lawyers who are compassionate and generous community leaders. For example, Scott Delius, an Atlanta trial lawyer, is voluntarily serving in Afghanistan and assisting in the building of a criminal justice system there. He also has begun a charitable donation effort to collect clothes and toys for the Afghan children he has met. Gary Hays, another Atlanta trial lawyer, has done incredible fundraising for cancer research through his "I Will Make A Difference Campaign." Giving back to the community -- wherever that may be -- is a proud tradition of our profession.

The case of the missing pants most likely will continue to get press in the weeks to come as it awaits a hearing. When this ridiculous case gets before a judge, I am confident it will be dealt with in a manner that will make us proud of our Civil Justice System. Let's hope the media fully reports the result in this case, so that all can see, accurately and fairly, how our Civil Justice System truly works for us all.