Tort Reform

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  • Topic: Frivolous litigation, Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants, Tort
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  • Published : April 16, 2011
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Tort Law and Cases:
A Comparison of Two Cases and Their Potential Frivolity8/22/2010

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Introduction
“A tort is a civil wrong resulting in injury to a person or property”; that is brought before a court to compensate the injured party (Bagley & Savage, 2010, pg 251). In order to prove an intentional tort, the following conditions must be met: 1) Intent

2) Voluntary act by the defendant
3) Causation
4) Injury or Harm.
The following tort cases, Pearson v. Chung and Liebeck v. McDonalds, have been a pinnacle “poster child” for tort reform in the United States. In 2002, frivolous lawsuits cost taxpayers over $233 billion (Insideprison.com, 2006). What is considered a frivolous lawsuit? It is when an attorney files a suit that they are aware is without merit, lacking legal arguments, and no basis for the claims. (USLegal.com, 2010) Each of these cases, at first glance, presents like a frivolous lawsuit, but after delving into the facts, new appreciation is given to our current legal system. Whether one agrees with the verdict or not, one does come away knowledgeable, as a critical thinker, in deciding the merits of each case based on the facts and evidence presented in each case, and not by the media hype.

Pearson v. Chung Facts
The Chung family immigrated to the United States in 1992 and opened various dry cleaning businesses, including Custom Cleaners in 2000. From October 1999 until May 2005, Mr. Pearson patronized Custom Cleaners on numerous occasions. In July 2002, Mr. Pearson brought in a pair of pants for cleaning or alterations, which went missing. The Chungs agreed to compensate Mr. Pearson for the loss of the pants at a value of $150. Mr. Pearson continued to patronize Custom Cleaners, even after the Chungs requested that he not, until May 3, 2005, when Mr. Pearson brought in numerous suits for alterations. The last items to be brought in for alterations was a Hickey Freeman suit, which was blue and burgundy pinstripe, and a gray pair of pants that was supposed to be ready on Thursday at 4:00 PM. When Mr. Pearson returned, on May 5th, to pick up his suit, Ms. Chung informed him that the suit was accidentally sent to another store and will be ready the next morning at 7:00AM. The following morning, May 6th, Mr. Pearson returned to pick up his suit, and was informed that the suit pants could still not be located. A few days later, Mr. Pearson brought his suit jacket to Custom Cleaners to assist in identifying his suit pants. At that time, Ms. Chung returned his gray pants, but not before measuring the inseam. On May 14th, Ms. Chung presented to Mr. Pearson a pair of pants with cuffs, which Mr. Pearson refused to accept citing that these were not his pants, since he does not wear cuffs and it did not match his suit jacket. Mr. Pearson contacted Nordstrom’s salesman, Samuel Adinew, to determine if the fabric was still available and it was not. Mr. Pearson wrote a letter to Custom Cleaners informing them that the pants could not be replaced and that Custom Cleaners should compensate him $1,150 for the lost pants to honor the “Satisfaction Guaranteed”. When the Chungs refused, because they found the pants but Mr. Pearson would not accept it, Mr. Pearson filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia where he contends that the Custom Cleaners participated in an “unfair trade practice under the Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA).” During the trial, the Chungs testified that the pants were Mr. Pearson’s because: a) Ms. Chung remembered the “same unique belt loop configuration as the pants he originally submitted.” b) The measurements of the pants were identical to the one he dropped off. c) The tag number on his pants matched the ones on his claim ticket. (Manning-Sossamon.com, 2009) Issues & Law

The defendants in this case, Custom Cleaners, requested that the case be dismissed since it has no merit. However, the judge felt that there were two factual issues in dispute that...
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