By now, most folks have heard about the administrative law judge Roy Pearson Jr. with his $65 million lawsuit against a D.C. dry cleaner for losing a pair of his pants.
Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Pearson has filed tons of documents and demanded payment in a court case. Just ask his ex-wife. In 2005, the Virginia Court of Appeals denied Pearson’s appeal seeking at least $10,000 in spousal support in his divorce from Rhonda VanLowe, legal counsel for Rolls-Royce North America. Pearson wanted VanLowe to help support him because he was receiving unemployment benefits in 2003 before he was appointed as an administrative law judge in 2005.
The trial judge also had ordered him to pay $12,000 in legal fees to VanLowe because Pearson excessively drove up legal costs by “creating unnecessary litigation” and threatened both VanLowe and her lawyer with disbarment, the appeals ruling stated.
The American Association for Justice, the renamed Association of Trial Lawyers of America, filed an ethics complaint against Pearson last week with the D.C. Bar. The American Association for Justice last week called for a disciplinary investigation of Judge Pearson, rightfully observing that the dry cleaning lawsuit provided fuel for the tort reform arguments and hurt plaintiffs with legitimate claims.
It’s true that, he is no longer hearing cases, Pearson’s term as a judge expired last week, and his bio was taken down from the D.C. website. But for now 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.
And Pearson just 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.