LawFuel – The Legal Newswire – By Marc Fisher – Washington Post – Around the D.C. government and around the world, Roy Pearson — the man who sued his neighborhood dry cleaner for $65 million in a dispute over a missing pair of pants — has become a laughingstock, a symbol of a legal system gone wild, another blot on the image of the District.
So last week, when the order came from managers of the city’s Web site to remove Pearson’s biography from the page about his job as an administrative law judge, a cheer went up among the techies in the office. Word spread like wildfire: Finally, the city had acted to salvage its reputation.
It’s true that Pearson’s term as a judge expired last week, his bio was taken down from the Web site and, for now, he is no longer hearing cases.
But he remains on the D.C. payroll, “doing administrative work,” said a senior city official who declined to be named because he was discussing a personnel matter. Pearson will be in paid limbo for weeks while a commission decides whether to reappoint him for a 10-year term to handle disputes with city agencies.
There is good reason to believe that Pearson might win a new term. Before the pants suit became a worldwide story, the city’s chief administrative law judge, Tyrone Butler, recommended approval of Pearson’s application based on his job performance, said D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson and three other sources with direct knowledge of the recommendation. Butler did not respond to a request for comment.
“Everyone agrees that to file a lawsuit asking for $65 million for a pair of pants is absolutely outrageous,” the D.C. official said. “But we are trying to keep that out of the discussion about reappointment. I don’t think it’s appropriate not to reappoint someone just because they file a lawsuit. You can’t retaliate against someone for exercising their constitutional, First Amendment right to file a lawsuit to vindicate their rights.”