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Buckyballs creator finally agrees to recall magnetic-ball desk toys

Refunds will come from a trust financed by Maxfield & Oberton's co-founder Craig Zucker

Published: May 13, 2014 02:30 PM

Bringing an end to a long-running battle, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has reached a settlement (PDF) with the creator of Buckyballs, Craig Zucker, who has agreed to a recall of those sets of high-powered magnetic balls and cubes that doctors say can pose life-threatening risks to children. (Watch the video below about the dangers.)

The settlement calls for Zucker to provide funds for a Recall Trust overseen by the CPSC to provide refunds to consumers who own and return magnet sets. Money from Zucker also will be used to establish a website with recall information, including an online registration form to file a claim. Once the Recall Trust has been established, there will be a six-month deadline to file a claim. Get more details about the recall and the refund process.

The CPSC urges you to stop using Buckyballs and Buckycubes and check for any loose magnets that might have become separated from the sets. Keeping them out of children’s reach and rounding up stray magnets that might have rolled under furniture or rugs is especially important. “Magnets that remain in the environment pose a major risk to children and adolescents,” said Athos Bousvaros, M.D., president of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.

As we've reported, doctors from this association of pediatric gastroenterologists met with the CPSC in the summer of 2012 to express their concern about the increasing number of life-threatening injuries they were seeing in children and teens who had swallowed super-strong bb-sized magnets. They followed up with a study documenting the rise in such cases. Most magnet set manufacturers voluntarily agreed to stop selling their products. But Maxfield & Oberton, the company Zucker co-founded to manufacture and market Buckyballs, refused to do so, prompting the CPSC to file an administrative complaint against the company in July 2012, seeking a full recall.

After Maxfield & Oberton dissolved in December 2012, the CPSC amended its complaint to include him individually. The legal battle intensified when Zucker countered by filing a lawsuit seeking to prevent the agency from holding him personally liable for complying with the recall.

Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, applauded the settlement and the CPSC for working to keep high-powered magnets out of the hands of children. “We have seen too many cases where children swallow these tiny yet powerful magnets masquerading as adult products and suffer serious medical consequences," she said. "This is the right move for parents and children alike.”

—Andrea Rock

   

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