We have all seen the media coverage of the Washington, DC administrative law judge who sued a "mom and pop" dry cleaner for $65 million over a lost pair of trousers. Those who want to destroy the civil justice system are trying to make this another "McDonald’s hot coffee case" to mislead the public into "reforms" to diminish legal rights. But there are several reasons why this case should not provoke radical "reforms."
First, this is not a tort case or an injury case. It is commercial litigation involving a misapplication of District of Columbia consumer protection laws. The lawyer who filed the suit is not a trial lawyer but a District of Columbia government bureaucrat. He is a great example of the adage that "the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." The lawyer defending the dry cleaners is a member in good standing of the District of Columbia Trial Lawyers Association.
Moreover, the suit violates the American Association for Justice (formerly Association of Trial Lawyers of America) Code of Conduct, which reads in part that our members will "not prosecute or counsel any action, or assert any claim or defense, which is false, frivolous or wholly insubstantial."
We must not allow this irrelevant aberration to become the catalyst for robbing millions of honest citizens of substantial legal rights. Rather, the court should dismiss the case and impose sanctions, the DC government should remove this nut case from his judgeship, and the DC Bar should consider disciplinary action.