Articles Posted in Miscellaneous Ramblings

The Indiana Consumer Law Group was blessed in 2008 with many excellent clients, for which I am very grateful. I believe that we obtained justice for some, yet for others obtaining justice is a work in progress. I hope that 2009 will see many continued victories, but mostly I pray that, in each and every case, justice will be done.

Here’s wishing you many blessings in 2009! I want to leave you with a few of my favorite Bible verses on justice:

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! [Isaiah 30:18]

The LORD is known by his justice;
the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. [Psalm 9:16]

I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. [Psalm 140:12]

Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow. [Isaiah 1:17]

When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. [Proverbs 21:15]


Robert E. Duff Indiana Consumer Law Group/
The Law Office of Robert E. Duff 310 N. Lebanon St.
Lebanon, IN 46052 (800) 817-0461

Justice prevails!

You may recall that I wrote recently about Judge Roy L. Pearson – the guy who was suing a dry cleaner’s for losing his pants for a couple days and was asking for 67 million dollars. Well, he lost. “Judge Bartnoff has spoken loudly in suggesting that, while consumers should be protected, abusive lawsuits like this will not be tolerated,” said the lawyer for the owners of the dry cleaners.

Will this repair all the damage done by Mr. Pearson in terms of the public’s confidence in our legal system? I doubt it. But it definitely makes me feel better, knowing that I can explain to people that the system, in the end, worked.

I have been really, really busy lately… and it’s been a while since I wrote a blog entry. I have a couple topics that I hope to write on soon, but today I thought I’d put my 13 year-old son to work and perhaps obtain an amusing blog entry at the same time. His assignment? Answer the question: What does a consumer lawyer do?

Hello, I really have no clue what a consumer lawyer is even though I come to my dad’s office sometimes and try to help. He told me to write down what a consumer lawyer was on a pad of paper and wouldn’t give me any clues. I tried to get him to tell me what things were but he wouldn’t say anything so I just went for it not knowing very much at all. Here it is.

A consumer lawyer is a lawyer that helps people if they were scammed buying or selling something. My dad helps people get the money that was cheated from them earlier. He helps to get scamming people in trouble like they should be. He sort of helps people with financial stuff, sometimes to get money for them that they should have. A consumer lawyer can sometimes be a big financial aid if you were scammed big money or you could save big money on something you didn’t know you could. I pretty much don’t know what a consumer lawyer is but I think I’m on the right track, maybe.

So there it is. I bet you had no idea I could do all that. Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff

Roy L. Pearson, Jr., an administrative hearings judge in the District of Columbia, took several suits to Custom Cleaners in Washington, D.C. for alteration. One of the pairs of pants was missing when he returned to pick them up two days later. So Pearson asked the cleaners to pay for the suit, around $1,000. A week later, though, the cleaners found the pants and refused to pay. Pearson decided to sue.

So of course Pearson sued for everything to which he felt entitled, which turned out to be $65,000,000. Yep, sixty five million dollars.

Pearson is apparently claiming that the cleaner’s signs stating “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service” are fraudulent. The bulk of the sixty five million is for 43,200 separate violations of D.C.’s consumer protection law, the Consumer Protection and Procedures Act, which is D.C.’s equivalent of the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, at $1,500 a pop. Alrighty then. Part of the remainder is money for Pearson to rent a car every weekend for the next ten years so that Pearson can take his clothes to another dry cleaner.

You might have guessed that Pearson is his own lawyer. I’m surprised that even Pearson himself took on a client that dumb.

Pearson has turned down settlement offers of $3,000, $4,600 and $12,000. Meanwhile, the Chungs, South Korean immigrants who opened the cleaners seven years ago, have spent thousands of dollars in attorney fees defending themselves over the past two years.

I just want to go on record as stating that this lawsuit is absurd. But it’s important to remember that this abomination of the legal system is in no way typical. This case is already being used by business interest groups to lobby the public against consumer protection statutes across the U.S., decrying “the litigation industry’s growing abuse of consumer protection laws.” The use of this outrageously extreme case in that way is just as abusive to truth and justice as Mr. Pearson’s lawsuit.

I see everyday how much Indiana consumers, and consumer across the country, need laws like these that provide a remedy and access to the courts that they otherwise would not have. I hate to see these much-needed rights come under attack.

Haven’t you ever wished the bank would make a mistake and through some glitch deposit about a hundred thousand dollars in your account? And then never find out? Tell me you’ve never thought about that! Anyway, that happened to George Costanza, oops, I mean George J. Costa of La Vista, Nebraska. More than $106,000 was deposited in his account between August 2006 and February 2007 after a bank employee mixed up account numbers. What did Mr. Costa do? He spent most of it. What’s happening to Mr. Costa now? He’s being charged with felony theft.

Does Mr. Costa owe the bank the money? Almost certainly. Will he be convicted of theft? That’s a much tougher call, but I definitely wouldn’t like to be in Mr. Costa’s position. Mr. Costa’s lawyer said: “If somebody sticks money in your pocket and you spend it, you can’t be convicted of theft.” I’m not sure that’s what happened here, but good luck. At least there’s an argument to be made.

Mr. Costa probably would have a better chance of escaping a conviction if he hadn’t spent the money on lottery tickets. Ok, I’m kidding on that one!!!!!

Indiana car owners shouldn’t be surprised, but Indiana’s “In God We Trust” license plate has been challenged in court. Actually, the fact that there is no extra charge for it is being challenged. Sadly, I’m not surprised. I just wrote about how much I liked the new license plate a few days ago. (Click here to see that blog entry.)

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Plaintiff Mark E. Studler by the Indiana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. We’ll see what happens, but I don’t have a good feeling about the outcome. Tyranny of the minority is how I see it.

If you live in Indiana, or anywhere along the spring break travel route to Florida, you’ve probably seen quite a few cars with the new Indiana “In God We Trust” license plate. Actually, I’ve been amazed at how many I’ve seen. It’s almost like it’s Indiana’s new license plate.


I knew that couldn’t be, considering the message (a message I wholeheartedly agree with, by the way), but figured it must be a specialty plate. I assumed all specialty plates cost extra money, making it even more amazing how many Indiana drivers were choosing this plate. When I went to the license branch to renew my license plates this week, I found out that it is a specialty plate of sorts, but it’s a specialty plate that doesn’t cost extra. Apparently, it’s the only “free”** specialty plate.

Stupendous. I signed up for the program.

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has indicated the plate is doing very well. It sure seems like that on the road, too.

The other “free” alternative is to keep your old plate for one more year. The BMV is currently having an election of sorts for the new standard plate to be issued in 2008. Click here if you’d like to see the four choices and vote. The “In God We Trust” plate is scheduled to be around until 2012.

Frankly, I’m not sure how we got this plate, but I’m sure glad we did. It makes me proud to live in Indiana.

** Calling your license plate “free” in Indiana is so wrong it doesn’t need explanation.

DATELINE: Billings, Montana, Wednesday, March 14, 2007
County Attorney Dennis Paxinos apologizes to the court, the public and to local DUI defendant Phillip Holliday. Why was he making this public apology? The day before, a deputy prosecutor employed by Mr. Paxinos’ office told a local judge an eyebrow-raising story: When officers arrived at the scene where Mr. Holliday had crashed his truck into a light pole, Mr. Holliday told the officers that a unicorn was driving. Yep, a UNICORN was driving.

Well, it turns out that Mr. Holliday never actually claimed a unicorn was driving. The apparently somewhat green deputy prosecutor misinterpreted an e-mail from a colleague that indicated Holliday was pursuing a “unicorn defense” – which is prosecutor-speak for when a defendant blames the offense on some unnamed, unidentified (mythical) other person. In fact, Holliday had told officers at the scene than an unnamed woman was driving at the time of the accident.

Paxinos said he chastised the prosecutors and the pink elephant involved.

Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn yesterday filed a lawsuit against insurance company Lloyds of London. I can’t help but comment on this lawsuit, not because I have anything of value to say about the law involved, but because the facts giving rise to the lawsuit are so humorous.

Wynn is a very rich gambling mogul. How rich? Well, Mr. Wynn owns a 1932 painting by Picasso called “Le Reve,” which he purchased in the late ’90’s for about 50 million dollars. Somehow last September, in an unspeakable moment of clumsiness, Wynn poked a hole in the painting with his elbow while showing it off to friends. He had sold the painting the day before for 139 million dollars, but the deal fell through after the damage was disclosed.

Wynn is seeking 54 million dollars from Lloyd’s, which, according to Wynn, is the loss in value of the painting following the damage.

This is just further evidence that no one is exempt from making stupid mistakes. Some are just more costly than others.