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Consumers Win in Sharper Image Bankruptcy Case

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Do you have a Sharper Image gift card or can you prove you once owned one? You've got cash coming.

    There's good new for consumers who held on to gift cards from Sharper Image.

    It's been three years since the quirky electronics and gift store went bankrupt, but thanks to efforts by a Chicago attorney and class action plaintiff, consumers -- who rarely see a dime in retailer bankruptcy cases -- will get cash refunds.

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    Roughly 1.5 million people sought protection in bankruptcy court last year, the highest level since tougher laws were introduced five years ago.

    "It will be the first time that gift card holders actually got something after the company went in to bankruptcy," said Chicago attorney Clint Krislov. "A victory for consumers. Once in a while it happens, and once in a while they get their rightful place in the sun."

    Among the first in that "sun" will be Chicago-area native Rick Prohov, who joined the class action in honor of the man who gave him the SI gift card back in 2007.  Prohov's father, Morris, a World War II veteran, died shortly after the family learned their gift cards would not be honored by the store.

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    "He always was someone who thought of right and wrong, and this was wrong," Prohov said. "This was a way, hopefully, to get some small measure of justice for the common guy, which he was."

    Krislov, an experienced class action litigator, employed a little-used provision in the bankruptcy code which recognizes and gives priority to consumer deposits.

    The victory is significant: consumers who held on to their cards or who can affirm they once owned one can now file a claim online.

    It also adds a measure of closure for Rick Prohov.

    "That's what America's all about. The backbone is kind of the common guy, the main street guy that people talk about. So this was a victory for them, and my dad would be happy about it."

    Sharper Image: Online Gift Card Filing