For whatever reason, the dry cleaner’s has always been fair game for comics. In his classic sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld faked being married just to get a dry cleaning discount, accused his dry cleaner of secretly wearing his clothes and even did a bit about a shrunken shirt.
It’s funny because at some point we’ve all experienced the same silly frustrations, whether it’s over misplaced clothes, melted buttons, or too much starch.
But do we sue in court?
Not really, but don’t try telling that to Roy Pearson. He filed a $65 million lawsuit against his neighborhood dry cleaners for allegedly losing a pair of his pants. Pearson, a lawyer and administrative judge, refused all efforts to settle the case, forcing a trial last week. Needless to say, the case has drawn the kind of lampooning media coverage usually reserved for two-headed sheep, hotdog eating contests and UFO sightings.
But among small business organizations, the case is no laughing matter. In a biting commentary, Todd Stottlemyer, who heads the National Federation of Independent Business, made his own federal case out of the suit. “There are literally hundreds of cases of small businesses who have been subjected to frivolous lawsuits,” he writes.
Before you accuse the NFIB of failing to have a sense of humor, consider this: A think tank recently estimated that the social and economic cost of our legal liability system amounts to $9,827 annually for a family of four. That amounts to lost health benefits for 3.4 million people, Stottlemyer asserts.
If the NFIB had its way, it would make Pearson the poster boy for tort reform. “We need to reform our nation’s civil justice system,” Stottlemyer writes. “After all, a true system of justice shouldn’t fly by the seat of anyone’s pants.”
See? I told you he had a sense of humor.