- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Legal reform groups and supporters from across the country attended a cocktail fundraiser last night at which the star attraction was a pair of pants.

The $54 million pants, as they’ve come to be known, were the subject of a lawsuit that gained international attention and ridicule of the American legal system. Now, they have their own security guard.

The dry cleaners defeated the lawsuit, but now owe about $100,000 in legal fees.

The American Tort Reform Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform groups that advocate tighter guidelines for filing lawsuits joined forces to put on last night’s fundraiser in an effort to defray the legal costs for Jin Nam Chung and Soo Chung, owners of Custom Cleaners in Northeast.

“Without your support, the Chungs could very well have gone bankrupt,” defense attorney Chris Manning told the crowd of about 150.

The organizers said they also wanted to raise visibility for tort reform in the face of lawsuits that unfairly target small businesses.

“Our motto is the spirit of free enterprise,” said Lisa Rickard, president of the Institute for Legal Reform. “The Chungs epitomize that in our perspective. They’ve really been living the American dream, and that all came to a halt with the filing of this lawsuit.

“It’s our hope to help them … get back on track,” Miss Rickard said.

The guests had appetizers and cocktails, and under the stern gaze of the security guard, some posed for photos with the pants that started it all. The Chungs say they are the pants that Roy Pearson brought in, were misplaced but later found and over which Mr. Pearson shed tears in court as he insisted they weren’t his.

They also heard speeches by the leaders of the two organizations and, in a rare appearance, the Chungs themselves, who took turns modestly thanking their guests.

If the court grants the Chungs’ motion for Mr. Pearson to pay their legal fees, Mr. Manning said proceeds from the fundraiser that exceed the family’s costs would be donated to a neighborhood charity.