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Sears Settles Stove Safety Class Action

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Sears Roebuck will install safety brackets on stoves in 4 million households to settle a class-action lawsuit in Madison County Court. The settlement could cost Sears more than $500 million - a figure Sears disputes.

Plaintiffs claimed Sears often failed to connect safety brackets when delivering stoves, which are made lighter than ever to keep costs down.

Many cities have passed safety laws requiring stove safety brackets after several deaths and injuries were reported when stoves tipped over from weight being put on an open stove door. The U.S. Safety Commission said it recorded 33 deaths and 84 injuries from tipping stoves from 1980 to 2006.

Manufacturers know of the danger and installers are instructed to connect the included L-shaped safety brackets. According to the settlement, Sears will fix at least 3.9 million stoves sold and installed from July 2, 2000 to Sept. 18, 2007 and will install anti-tip devices for three years thereafter.

Sears will give customers three options: Sears will install the brackets for free, or pay $100 to anyone who has paid Sears or a third party to install the brackets, or will give a $50 gift card to customers who don't want the device that can be used to install a new Sears stove.

The lawyers involved will split $17 million, the settlement states. Some estimate that the settlement could cost Sears $544 million, a figure the appliance giant says is not true. Sears issued a statement Tuesday saying it disputes "many aspects of the case, including the value on this settlement - which Sears estimates to be a small fraction of what plaintiff's counsel estimates."

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