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SEARS TO PAY $500,000

Sears, Roebuck and Co. has agreed to pay $500,000 to resolve federal allegations that it failed to report known defects on riding lawnmowers, federal safety officials said Friday.

From April 1999 to September 2001, Sears learned of about 1,600 instances of fuel leakage and fuel tank cracking on some models of Craftsman lawnmowers, but the company did not report the problems as required by federal law, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

As part of the settlement, Sears denies any violations, the commission said.

About 36,000 of the Craftsman rear-engine riding lawnmowers were recalled in 2003. The manufacturer, Brentwood, Tenn.-based Murray Inc., later paid a $375,000 civil penalty to settle allegations of belatedly notifying the CPSC.

In a statement, Sears said it told the lawnmower manufacturer of all reported incidents and is now working with the safety commission to help meet future reporting obligations.

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