Stove scare

The Madison County Record Aug. 2, 2008, 12:26pm

St. Louis' very own Steven Tillery sounded the alarm on America's great "stove tipping" consumer menace.

No menace actually existed. Other than plaintiff's lawyers and the politicians and activists they support, consumers muttered few complaints.

But that doesn't mean Tillery still isn't publicly seeking applause for his crusading-- without mentioning the little something in fees ($17 million!!) he got for his efforts.

Singing his own praises in a sputtering video interview days ago with the Alton Telegraph's softball questioner Sanford Schmidt, the class action lawyer touted his recently settled stove lawsuit against Sears in Madison County as an example of his all-around altruism.

As explained to Schmidt, the company will now install anti-tip devices on the stoves if its customers wish. Or they can get a $50 gift card for use on a new Sears range.

Tillery wasn't asked about the millions in hard cash he received as part of the deal, which was approved as "fair" by his favorite judge, Nicholas Byron.

He wasn't questioned about the thousands of class members who took the time to opt-out of the deal. A heaping 5,000 of them declined to join the Tillery-Byron settlement.

He wasn't confronted with the criticism of those who elaborated why they opted out.

"I don't have a problem with my installation, but I do have a problem with the time and postage wasted," complained Donald Moon of Mesa, Ariz. "No one but the lawyers involved receive any real compensation. Millions? This action does more harm than good by raising consumer prices to cover the cost of any such class suits as this."

Damn the critics, Tillery said. They just cannot see that he's doing this for them.

"Lots of little children...parents of disabled children.. were victims of the problem for 10 years and (the government) did nothing," Tillery told Schmidt.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that from 1994-2007, six children and two adults died in tipping stove accidents involving stoves of all brands. Some perspective: between 1980-1995, 1,318 Americans died after being struck by lightning.

The plaintiffs in Tillery's case against Sears--Darrell Nash, Charles Parker and Joyce Sumpter--weren't injured by their stoves, either. They were fearful the stoves could tip, and they wanted someone to pay for that uncomfortable feeling.

They should have asked the real party responsible. And it wasn't Sears.

More News