Much has been said in the last few years about the dangers posed by magnets in toys and other products available to children. As we discussed in a previous post, children have ingested these powerful magnets, which can become connected in the body and cause serious tissue damage. According to federal regulators, various kinds of small magnets have been swallowed by more than 1,000 children, many of whom required major surgery.
These types of toys have been the subject of numerous product recalls, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has had particular difficulty in removing Buckyballs from the market. The product, which contains high-powered magnets, was marketed as a desktop toy for adults. The CPSC found that the product poses a “substantial hazard,” but recall efforts have been slowed since the founder and developer of Buckyballs dissolved the company.
The CPSC estimated that the Buckyballs recall would cost $57 million, which is funding the commission does not have. Since the Buckyballs company was dissolved, the CPSC sought to hold the founder personally responsible for funding the recall. In response, he sued the CPSC in 2013, and only recently was the dispute settled.
According to the settlement, the company founder agreed to create a trust fund to cover a small portion of the estimated cost of the recall. The CPSC indicated that the trust would be used to provide refunds to consumers who return the magnetic toys.
A legal group that assisted the product developer is reportedly planning litigation against the CPSC, claiming the commission overstepped its bounds and retaliated against the company founder for refusing to pay for a recall.
The CPSC issued its own statement, saying the recall of Buckyballs will “protect children and teenagers from the risk of injury that can occur when multiple magnets are ingested.” The commission also reminded consumers to immediately stop using magnetic toys like Buckyballs and to locate any stray magnets that a child might ingest.
The Buckyballs case is a reminder of the lengths to which companies will go to deny responsibility for dangerous or defective products. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous product, then a product liability attorney can clarify the full range of legal options for holding the responsible party accountable.
Source: The Washington Post, “Buckyballs founder agrees to product recall in settlement with federal regulators,” Josh Hicks, May 13, 2014