Friday, December 26, 2008

Frivolous, vexatious, malicious lawsuits in Canada!

(Activate Audio Control)

"When I heard $67 million, I said to myself, 'Nonsense'... How could he claim this much over a pair of pants?"

Jin and Soo Chung - Custom Cleaners Washington, D.C.

Jin and Soo Chung came to the United States in search of the American dream. What they experienced was the nightmare of American lawsuit abuse.

While the Chungs may not be household names, most Americans are aware of the $54 million lawsuit over pants they temporarily misplaced. That lawsuit, which was laughable on its face, has had a very unfunny impact on their business and their lives, forcing them to close two of their three dry cleaning stores and causing years of anxiety and sleepless nights.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

The Chungs moved to Washington, D.C. from South Korea, where Mr. Chung worked in a charcoal factory, in 1992. Like many immigrants, they were drawn to America by the opportunities available to those willing to work hard and the promise of a good education and a better life for their children.

And work hard they did, opening one dry cleaning store which was soon followed by a second and a third. The stores were a family business, owned and operated by the Chungs along with their son Ki.

But then came the day Judge Roy Pearson complained they'd lost his pants. The Chungs tried to settle with him, eventually offering up to $12,000 (as well as his pants), but Pearson insisted on dragging them to court in a ridiculous claim for $54 million.

After more than two years, Pearson lost his initial lawsuit, but it unfortunately didn't end there. Losses at their Custom Cleaners store were too great to overcome, and the Chungs had to close it last October. In the meantime, despite magnanimously dropping their countersuit against Pearson for legal fees, he pressed on with his appeal and today the case remains alive in the District of Columbia court system.

Today the Chungs operate their first cleaning location, Happy Cleaners in downtown Washington, D.C. ''They're out a lot of money, but more importantly, they're incredibly disenchanted with the system,'' said Chris Manning, their attorney. ''This has destroyed their lives.''


Tansi/Good Day Folks:

The other day quite by accident we came upon a fascinating project by the U.S. Chamber Institute of Legal Reform. It's a compilation of 13 short videos, much like the one featured above, plus written examples of other cases. We've featured the Chungs because they've become the poster child for the movement.

The site invites readers to contact it with examples of other frivolous, vexatious, malicious lawsuits for possible posting. We believe the taxpayer funded litigation by the Metis National Council Secretariat, Metis National Council and President Clement Chartier against The Honourable W. Yvon Dumont Canada and Manitoba's first Metis Lieutenant Governor is a prime candidate. Afterall, the Plaintiffs must now pay MMF lawyer Murray Trachtenberg thousands and thousands and thousands of public dollars in legal fees. In return the Plaintiffs were awarded a loonie.

Then there's the Canadian taxpayer funded Manitoba Metis Federation's defamation SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) involving the now defunct also being prosecuted by Murray Norman Trachtenberg. CyberSmokeBlog will willingly participate in the production of a video for publication if requested by Faces of Lawsuit Abuse. We notice they already have a write up of a case from the Nova Scotia Chronicle-Herald. Shortly we will be contacting FLA about a reciprocal link.

In our view, two situations must happen to stop such texbook misuse of the law to intimidate, threaten, bully and harass private citizens in Canada:

(1) A Defendant wins a SLAPP case then successfully countersues the Plaintiff(s) for malicious prosecution

(2) The Canadian legal system adopt standards for SLAPP cases. If the criteria are satisfied Plaintiffs who lose would automatically be assessed double damages. In the Yvon Dumont case the MNCS, MNC and its President would be required to pay all his legal costs with interest

Thank goodness the Canadian judiciary is a lot "saner" than its American counterparts.

Clare L. Pieuk


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