17 June 2007

It's Too Much

I suppose we may owe a debt of gratitude to Roy L. Pearson, Jr.

In case you've been living under a rock, he is the person suing his dry cleaner for $54 million. Living where you do, one could imagine that you are suspicious of your own eyesight, so let me assure you that you just read "fifty-four million dollars." US Dollars, in 2007 dollars. There is no catch here, no punch line.

Mr. Pearson may be mentally ill rather than incredibly evil and greedy. He may be all of these things. Whatever his motivation, he may have created enough public distaste and disappointment with the tort system in the United States to actually give the citizens of this country some hope that perhaps it will be changed for the better. On his way to becoming a household word, Roy L. Pearson, Jr. might be doing us all a favor.

We do not need more laws, we simply need judges with a sense of smell. (It is worth mentioning that Pearson is himself a type of judge, albeit a rather obscure type known as an Administrative Law Judge.) With olfactory powers engaged, such courageous upholders of the Constitution could say (sniffing a bit), "What the hell are you doing in my courtroom? The taxpayers of this [city, county, state, nation] pay a lot of money to convene this court for the purpose of dispensing justice under our time-honored system of fairness and equality. The cleaners offered to pay for your damn pants. You didn't take the money. Get out of here before I hold you in Contempt." One imagines the sobbing Mr. Pearson staggering from the room with his hand over his eyes. One smiles with pleasure.
"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I do not know the exact nature of the consumer protection law or laws invoked by Pearson in this case, and I do not care. If laws have been passed that make this type of action possible, it is the proper function of the court system to declare them null and void, dead on arrival, unconstitutional, and ridiculous. The bureaucrats who proposed, wrote, and enacted such laws should be publicly ridiculed and made to work at a dry cleaner's shop.

Mr. Pearson most likely deserves more pity than contempt. As I, and many others wiser and more articulate than I, have said elsewhere, the cost of untreated mental illness in our society is impossible to know because it is so often reflected in bizarre occurrences such as this.

Boston Globe Editorial, "Ludicrous Lawsuits," by Jeff Jacoby 17 June 2007.

Fashion perspective on this story from The Washington Post 14 June 2007.

No comments: