The founder of Buckyballs, along with two other magnetic ball companies,
is being sued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. According to a
story in The Washington Post, the lawsuit is designed to force a recall of Buckyballs
and similar products, and could cost the company’s founder up to
$57 million. The company that manufactured Buckyballs, Maxfield &
Oberton, was dissolved in December 2012, which is why the CPSC sued the
founder rather than the business.
The Hazards of Buckyballs
Buckyballs are small, highly magnetic balls that supposedly relieve stress
when a person moves them around in his hands. But while these products
are marketed principally to adults, children often get their hands on
them, and the results are not pretty. The CPSC estimates that over 1,000
children have been hospitalized after ingesting Buckyballs and other magnetic
balls. After being swallowed, the magnetic force of the balls often causes
them to stick together in the digestive tract, creating major health problems
for the children who swallow them.
Children who swallow Buckyballs often require surgery to remove the balls.
In one extreme case in 2012, doctors removed nearly all of a two-year-old’s
small intestine after he swallowed eight of the magnetic pellets. The
boy’s parents now feed him through a chest catheter. Reacting to
these incidents, the CPSC in September 2012 proposed a rule that would
prohibit sales of magnet sets like Buckyballs, Zen Magnets, and other
similar products that were deemed dangerous to children. The Buckyballs
parent company was likely dissolved in response to this increased attention
from federal regulators.
CPSC Aims to Force Recall
In suing the Buckyballs founder and two other companies, the CPSC hopes
to force a recall of these sorts of magnet sets. Since the recall would
entitle those who bought the magnets to be reimbursed, the CPSC wants
to force the companies to pay those costs. To make this possible, the
CPSC is trying to name the small magnetic ball sets as
defective consumer products, which would force them off the market. This could also expose the companies
to further litigation and liability from consumers.
The Buckyballs founder has responded to the CPSC by filing a lawsuit of
his own against the agency. He alleges that the CPSC drove him out of
business and is now taking the unprecedented step of forcing a former
officer of a company to personally conduct a recall. He believes the CPSC
carries a vendetta against him, even though their lawsuit also goes after
the two other magnetic ball companies. While Buckyballs and its parent
company have been out of business for over a year, Zen Magnets are still
being sold online.
What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Defective Product
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective consumer product,
you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney
can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable
claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation you deserve.