In a rare move, the US Consumer Product and Safety Commission is pursuing an administrative lawsuit against Maxfield & Oberton Holdings LLC claiming that its magnet toys are defective products. The manufacturer of the Buckycubes and Buckyballs products is disputing the allegations.
The small, round magnets are normally sold in sets of more than 200 pieces and are considered adult toys. Unfortunately, one too many kids under the age of 14 has ended up suffering severe injuries from accidentally swallowing more than one of the individual magnets. The victim might be a toddler who has decided to put the shiny round objects in his/her mouth or an older kid pretending that the magnet is a tongue piercing.
The danger happens once the magnets reach the stomach and intestines where they are inevitably drawn to each other and can end up tearing holes in the different organs, or cause blood poisoning or even death, as they come together. The CPSC is aware of at least a dozen child magnet ingestion injuries since 2009 when more than 2 million Buckyball and Buckycubes sets were sold in this country.
In 2010, at the agency’s prodding, Maxfield and Oberton Holdings recalled more than 175,000 buckyball sets because their label said they could be used by people age 13 and above. Loose magnets cannot be sold to anyone younger than 14. However, the CPSC believes that these magnet sets are not only defective in design, but also, they come with warning, instruction, and packaging defects-all flaws that are covered under products liability laws for purposes of recovering damages.
Grounds for a Boston products liability lawsuit generally include breach of warranty, negligence, and misrepresentation. However, it doesn’t matter if product was designed, made, and marketed as intended. Massachusetts products liability law follows a strict liability policy that can allow plaintiffs injured from even these products to recover compensation.
Read the Administrative Complaint (PDF)
Gastrointestinal Injuries from Magnet Ingestion in Children — United States, 2003–2006, CDC
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