Foggy Bottom cleaners clean up to avoid lawsuits

Junior Lindsay Brook said she does get her clothes dry cleaned often, but she knows she would never sue the dry cleaners on E Street or Pennsylvania Avenue that she frequents.

“I’m not a huge fan of lawsuits in general,” said Brook, a political science major who is considering a future at law school.

But Brook, who said she has never paid more than $50 for a pair of pants, said she would not be surprised if a student at GW slapped a lawsuit on one of their cleaners.

“It kind of goes with the GW mentality of being entitled to more than you are,” she said.

In a high profile case earlier this year, a D.C. administrative law judge, Roy Pearson, sued his cleaners, South Korean immigrants Jim Na and Soo Chung, for allegedly losing a pair of his pants. Pearson, who originally sued the Chungs for $67 million and later dropped the figure to $54 million, lost his case in June in the D.C. Superior Court but may have won the battle last month when the Chungs were forced to close one of their stores because of excessive legal fees.

Now some GW cleaners such as Soapy Joe’s have re-evaluated their policies to safeguard themselves from any similar legal battles.

Matt Sternberg, the owner of Soapy Joes, said that his company has updated its terms, agreements and policies.

“A lot of people are out there to take advantage,” Sternberg said.

Soapy Joe’s, the senior said, has put “a lot more time and effort” into upgrading the company’s system because of the $54 million suit, but he himself did not take the claims seriously when he heard about the case.

“The first thing my partner and I did was laugh,” he said.

Cathy McNeal, the manager of Esteem Cleaners at 2100 Pennsylvania Ave., said she feels sorry for the Chung family.

“To me it was really a ridiculous thing that he did,” said McNeal about Pearson’s lawsuit.

McNeal said that Esteem Cleaners has not changed their policies because of the case brought against the Chungs, and she does not think any of her customers would bring a similar legal grievance.

“Everything will go on as normal,” she said.

According to a Web site by the Chungs’ attorneys, Manning & Sossamon, Pearson alleged that he dropped off a pair of grey pants to be altered on May 3, 2005. When Pearson returned on May 5 to pick up the pants, he refused to accept them, alleging that the pants were not the same ones that he dropped off and that certain signs in the cleaners such as “Satisfaction Guaranteed” were misleading.

The Chungs assert that the pants that they returned to Pearson were the ones he originally dropped off and that their signs were not misleading to a reasonable person, according to the Web site.

Brent Jostad, a first year GW law student said he thought that Pearson’s case was “pretty ridiculous,” but wouldn’t be surprised if a similar situation repeated itself on campus.

“I feel like there are some people at GW who don’t really understand the way the world works,” Jostad said.

Giancarlo Serrato, a freshman from Geneva, said that he heard about Pearson’s lawsuit on CNN.

“I think it was a bit irresponsible and a bit exaggerated,” said Serrato.

But Serrato, who said that customers need to be cautious about sending valuables out to irresponsible cleaners, said that he could imagine himself suing his cleaners if it was an extreme circumstance.

“They’d have to really mess up my clothes big time,” he said.

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