We always wondered what the total damage was-- just how much money plaintiff's attorney Stephen Tillery has made filing class action lawsuits over the past few years.

And we never imagined it would be Tillery, if indirectly, who would eventually lay out all the groovy details for us himself.

But thanks to a courthouse filing by a Tillery associate Aaron Zigler-- one that aimed to persuade Madison County Judge Ralph Mendelsohn of the firm's heft, convincing him to let Tillery sue drug maker Pfizer for hundreds of millions-- now we all know.

This man is very, very wealthy.

Since 1998, Tillery-initiated class action lawsuits have led to at least $1.8 billion in settlements against companies including IBM, AT & T, Ameritech, Xerox and MCI, according to a motion filed Dec. 5 in the Madison County Court. Doing the quick math-- plaintiff's lawyers typically take one-third of the gross proceeds, plus fees-- that comes to a hearty $600 million payday for Tillery & Co.

Not bad for a decade's work.

And that's not to mention what Tillery didn't in this accounting-- the $17 million he's set to collect from Sears in January, the $16.8 million he just won in a class action against GlaxoSmithKline, his undisclosed take in a class action settled versus Allstate, or his share of $12 million settlement versus SBC. And those are the fees about which we know.

To be sure, class action lawsuits have been good to Stephen Tillery.

Counting his millions, that he continues to make the argument-- like in this motion, for instance-- that his many class action crusades have been even better for the rest of us takes some audacity. In fact, that's precisely what Mr. Zigler was trying to tell Judge Mendelsohn when he exposed his boss' big bankroll this week, touting all the money Tillery has been sprinkling among the little people.

Let us sue Pfizer, he argued, and we'll get you even more!

(Judge Mendelsohn nods head in approval).

Hey-- this is Stephen Tillery's cash register. We're just trying to seek a little justice in it.

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