The owners of a dry-cleaning shop that successfully fended off a $54 million lawsuit over a pair of pants are being forced to sell their business as a result of costly legal fees.

Soo Chung and Jin Nam Chung, the owners of Washington-based Custom Cleaners, were sued earlier this year by a customer for allegedly losing his pants.

While the case was eventually dismissed, the heavy legal expenses have since forced the Chungs out of business, according to the couple's lawyer.

Small-business advocacy groups had hailed the couple's case as a victory by smaller employers against frivolous lawsuits.

"It is disgraceful that our legal system operates this way," Karen Harned, the executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business Legal Foundation, said in a statement this week. "Outrageous litigants should not be able to use our judicial system to take advantage of innocent small-business owners."  

She called the store's closing "regrettable."