The case of the $54 million pants lawsuit has finally had its day in court. The judge issued her ruling finding in favor of the long-suffering defendants. Soon the jokes will subside, the disbelief will fade away, and the public will turn their attention to the next major headline.
But our broken legal system remains.
From the beginning, this $54 million lawsuit over a pair of lost pants has been the epitome of a frivolous lawsuit. Despite the Chungs’ repeated attempts to settle reasonably with the plaintiff, they were rebuffed in favor of dragging them to court.
Some may point to this ruling in favor of the drycleaners and argue that it proves the system works, but in actuality this case still proves that the system is truly broken and badly in need of repair.
Even though they’ve won, the Chungs lose. This frivolous lawsuit has cost them tens of thousands of dollars in defense costs, as well as years of stress and unwanted attention and time away from running their family business.
Although the judge ruled that the plaintiff must pay the Chungs’ legal costs, the plaintiff will likely appeal, and in the end is unlikely to have the money to pay their defense costs. It will likely be years before they see anything, and then only a fraction of their actual legal defense costs.
For them, the American dream has turned into a nightmare, thanks to the broken lawsuit system.
Unfortunately, the Chungs are not alone. Businesses large and small across America must deal with extortionist plaintiffs’ lawyers like Pearson every day. The collective outcome is not justice, but lost jobs, ruined businesses, and billions of dollars in lost economic opportunity.
Data recently released by ILR shows the tort system cost small business $98 billion in 2005, and more than half of all small businesses concerned about lawsuits say they make business decisions they otherwise would not have made because of their lawsuit fears.
Pearson’s lawsuit highlighted the problems with our broken lawsuit system. Rather than allowing the story to be consigned to the “Remember When” files of our collective memory, we must find the will to fix those problems before others fall victim to frivolous lawsuits.