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Sears Settlement Upheld in North Carolina

BY CSA STAFF

Raleigh, N.C. A North Carolina appeals court said in an opinion on Wednesday that, despite concerns, a class-action settlement that allowed attorneys who sued Sears to collect $1 million in fees while consumers got $2,402 will be upheld.

The state Court of Appeals said that it has “serious concerns” about the final accounting of the settlement but that the issues surrounding the case had already been considered by an Illinois circuit court in 2004.

Terms of the deal approved in Illinois, where the now-Sears Holdings Corp. has its headquarters, set aside $10 checks or $4 coupons to motorists who were charged for a four-wheel alignment when they only needed two done. Sears Roebuck and Co. agreed to pay about $1 million in fees and costs to the various lawyers involved.

An outraged business judge in North Carolina resurrected the settlement issue last year, criticizing the efforts of attorneys to locate as many as 1.5 million customers affected. Both sides had agreed to publish details of the settlement in a magazine, a national newspaper and papers in Sears’ top 25 markets. Sears also maintained a Web site and phone line to give information about the case.

Attorneys estimated that 30% of consumers would file claims, and they argued before the settlement’s final approval that about 1,900 people had already submitted a claim while thousands of others had inquired about it. But the lawyers later told North Carolina Special Superior Court Judge Ben F. Tennille that the entire claims period only brought in 1,015 filings, of which only 317 were valid.

That left consumers with only $2,402 of the seven-digit settlement.

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Gibson USA appoints new execs

BY CSA STAFF

COMMERCE, Calif. Gibson USA, a leading housewares manufacturer, has announced two new hires. Veteran housewares executive Jack Kurilla will serve as the company’s new director of sales, and retail sourcing specialist Connie Bowman will take over as director of product development.

With Gibson?s 30th anniversary next year, Kurilla?s focus will be on increasing the company’s market share in an industry where vendors are faced with challenges such as retailer consolidation and rapidly-rising material costs.

Kurilla comes to Gibson following tenures at the Zrike Company, Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Groupe SEB and Krups, among others.

Bowman will lead Gibson’s multi-category development group, and will be reponsible for sourcing needs for products across a range of materials that include metals, ceramics, plastics, woods, natural fibers and others. With over 20 years in the retail industry focused on product development and global sourcing, her resume includes positions at U.S. Sales Corp. and Big Lots. Most recently, she served as a managing director for 99 Cents Only Stores.

“In the 30 years since my father founded this company, we?ve seen good economies and bad, but we?ve always continued to grow,” said company principal and Gibson ceo Sal Gabbay. “Connie and Jack are two examples of Gibson?s commitment to growth.”

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Nintendo, Atari launch new ‘Naked Chef’ game/cookbook combo

BY CSA STAFF

Nintendo has entered into an exclusive partnership with Atari and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to launch “What’s Cooking? with Jamie Oliver,” a combination cooking game and interactive cookbook, starring the English chef, more commonly known as The Naked Chef. The game will be created by Atari exclusively for Nintendo DS and is scheduled to ship to North American in October 2008.

The game will walk players through making dishes and meals and will feature 100 original recipes from Jamie Oliver. It will provide an interactive shopping list with ingredients chosen from different recipes and will organize them by food type to help players/consumers get in and out of the supermarket efficiently. Also, up to 100 recipes created by users can be saved in the game and shared online.

“What’s Cooking? with Jamie Oliver” also offers games in which players can use the Nintendo DS’ stylus to chop, stir and serve meals in 3D virtual kitchens. Players can also challenge friends to cook-offs or races.

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