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Another trophy for attorney Stephen Tillery

Madison County Record

Thursday, September 13, 2018  |  Editorial  |  By The Madison County Record

Courts (27) , Legal System (27) , Tort Reform (27)
Big game hunters have bear rugs on the floors of their trophy rooms and stuffed animal heads mounted on the walls.

Stephen Tillery’s trophy room, if he has one, might feature the logos of companies he’s brought down with lawsuits, and the next one to be put on display may be Kmart’s.

Tillery client Carl Ireland is the administrator of the estate of James Garbe, a former Kmart pharmacist who blew the whistle on his employer for allegedly cheating the government on reimbursements for prescriptions. 

Taking advantage of the False Claims Act, which authorizes private suits alleging fraud on the U.S. Government, Garbe sued Kmart and won a bundle in a settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Nancy Rosenstengel in East St. Louis this past January.

The only problem is that Kmart and parent company Sears are failing businesses and can meet their obligation only by selling off assets – which is why the U.S. Government and Tillery’s client now hold a joint mortgage on a Sears distribution center in Winter Park, Florida.

Judge Rosenstengel approved the settlement in January, “contingent on the closing of the two properties serving as security for the settlement amount.”

According to Allie Pang of the U.S. Department of Justice, Kmart has found a buyer for the property and intends to pay the U.S. Government, Garbe’s estate, and the states of California and Illinois $12.8 million from the proceeds at closing. 

That amount would serve as a partial advance on a $20 million payment due Dec. 22., at which time Kmart would deposit $1.6 million into an escrow account for a $19 million payment due a year later. That deposit would constitute an obligation under a $17.4 million mortgage Sears Roebuck of Puerto Rico pledged in January. 

In April, after Kmart made a first payment, Judge Rosenstengel distributed $2.5 million to Ireland, $5.8 million to Tillery’s firm, and $1.6 million to a Tillery-associated firm.

Kmart won’t be around much longer, but you can always drop by Tillery’s place and see if  their logo is on wall.