Consumer Groups Slam Sears' Kitchen Range

Several consumer groups have begun publicizing the recent settlement of a major lawsuit involving Sears kitchen ranges in an effort to step up federal consumer product safety legislation. The groups say that more than 100 people have been killed or injured from scalding and burns caused by hot foods and liquids spilling from the stove top, or from being crushed by a stove that has tipped over.

Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, says the Sears case highlights the failure of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the shortcomings of legislation moving through Congress to strengthen it. "Voluntary standards have been shown not to work," Claybrook claims. She has criticized both the House and the Senate versions of product safely legislation as failing to do enough.

The administration, including the acting head of the safety commission, Nancy A. Nord, and manufacturers have praised a bill approved by the House in December. Nord, however, has criticized the Senate bill for overreaching.

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