June 29, 2007

LinkNews Digest [06/29/2007]

VICTORY! Common Sense Wins Over Lawyers Pants!

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A judge ruled Monday that no pair of pants is worth $54 million, rejecting a lawsuit that took a dry cleaner's promise of "Satisfaction Guaranteed" to its most litigious extreme.

Roy L. Pearson became a worldwide symbol of legal abuse by seeking jackpot justice from a simple complaint - that a neighborhood dry cleaners lost the pants from a new suit and tried to give him a pair that were not his.

His claim, reduced from $67 million, was based on a strict interpretation of the city's consumer protection law - which imposes fines of $1,500 per violation, per day - as well as damages for inconvenience, mental anguish and attorney's fees for representing himself.

But District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled that the owners of Custom Cleaners did not violate the consumer protection law by failing to live up to Pearson's expectations of the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign once displayed in the store window. "A reasonable consumer would not interpret 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands," the judge wrote.

Bartnoff ordered Pearson to pay clerical court costs of about $1,000 to defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung. A motion to recover the Chungs' tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees will be considered later.

"Judge Bartnoff has spoken loudly in suggesting that, while consumers should be protected, abusive lawsuits like this will not be tolerated," the Chung's attorney, Chris Manning, said in a statement. "Judge Bartnoff has chosen common sense and reasonableness over irrationality and unbridled venom."

Speaking to reporters outside their dry cleaners, the Chungs said they held no hard feelings toward Pearson. "If he wants to continue using our services, then, yes, he is welcome," Soo Chung, a Korean immigrant, said through a translator.

Pearson, who came to court during the two-day trial earlier this month carrying the offending pair of pants in a suit bag, did not respond to a call and an e-mail seeking comment.(LINK )

Robber in Foot Chase Asks For Time-Out

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine police chased down an unfit thief on Tuesday after he ran out of breath and asked his pursuers for a "time out."

"He was panting and gasping for air when we caught up with him after a 500 meter sprint," Erwin Buenceso, one of the arresting officers, told local radio station dzBB.

Buenceso said the man and an accomplice broke into a house in the Philippine capital and stole two expensive mobile phones. Screams from the residence alerted a local police patrol, which gave chase.

The robber asked for a "time out" using hand signals. After he regained his composure, police seized the two stolen phones and brought him to a station for questioning.(LINK )

Rubber Duckie Armada To Storm UK Beaches

For the past 15 years Curtis Ebbesmeyer has been tracking nearly 30,000 plastic bath toys that were released into the Pacific Ocean when a container was washed off a cargo ship.

Some of the ducks, known as Friendly Floatees, are expected to reach Britain after a journey of nearly 17,000 miles, having crossed the Arctic Ocean frozen into pack ice, bobbed the length of Greenland and been carried down the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The ducks began life in a Chinese factory and were being shipped to the US from Hong Kong when three 40ft containers fell into the Pacific during a storm on January 29, 1992. Two thirds of them floated south through the tropics, landing months later on the shores of Indonesia, Australia and South America. But 10,000 headed north and by the end of the year were off Alaska and heading back westwards. It took three years for the ducks to circle east to Japan, past the original drop site and then back to Alaska on a current known as the North Pacific Gyre before continuing north towards the Arctic.

Many were stranded as the currents took them through the Bering Strait, which divides Alaska from Russia. Mr Ebbesmeyer predicted that they would spend years trapped in the Arctic ice, moving at the rate of one mile a day towards the Atlantic.

The landfalls have all been logged on a computer model called the Ocean Surface Currents Simulation, which is used to help fisheries and find people lost at sea. Two children’s books have been written about the saga and the ducks have become collector’s items, changing hands for £500. (LINK )


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