Pants Suit Prompts Bill in Maryland
You may have guessed that after prompting worldwide ridicule, a D.C. judge's $54 million lawsuit against his neighborhood dry cleaners would disappear from the headlines. Think again.
Maryland Del. Barbara A. Robinson (D-Baltimore) was inspired in part by the case of Roy L. Pearson Jr. to introduce legislation requiring dry cleaners to pay customers for clothing they damaged. Click here to read the story in today's Metro section.
Scores of dry cleaners, most of them Koreans, attended a hearing yesterday to oppose the measure. With industry lobbyists in tow, the launderers packed the hearing room, spilled out into the foyer and sought to display strength in numbers.
Some industry leaders testified on behalf of the Korean dry cleaners.
Richard Ehrenreich, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Cleaners, criticized the bill. He said it places too high a burden on dry cleaners. For instance, he said in his testimony, someone could spill champagne on a party dress and may not notice the stain because the liquid is clear. But the sugar from the champagne soaks into the fabric and when the heat of a dryer or iron is applied, the sugar creates a stain.
"Dry cleaners are experts, but you can only be expert to a certain degree," Ehrenreich said.
Ronald Greenbaum, who owns a dry cleaners in Rockville, testified and criticized Robinson's legislation by saying "she failed to go into the meat on this bill."
"She says she's creating a solution," Greenbaum said. "But she's creating a problem."
Yesterday's hearing even stirred some racial tensions. Robinson, who is black, refuted criticism that her bill unfairly targets Korean immigrants.
Meanwhile, Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore County), who also is black, criticized the Korean shop owners for not hiring enough African Americans.
"When Korean establishments are sold to the Korean community, African Americans who work at these cleaners are summarily or with time dismissed," Burns said. "At the establishments I patronize, I see absolutely no blacks."
Burns asked the dry cleaners in attendance to stand up if they employ African Americans. But Del. David D. Rudolph (D-Cecil), who presided over the hearing, interrupted and said this is a matter that can be worked out later.
-- Philip Rucker
March 4, 2008; 9:48 AM ET
Categories: General Assembly
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