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From Products Liability Law Daily, May 13, 2014

Buckyballs and Buckycubes magnet sets recalled due to ingestion hazard

By Joe Bichl

Following a two-year administrative effort to protect consumers from Buckyballs and Buckycubes, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced the voluntary recall of these high-powered magnet sets. Buckyballs are small magnetic spheres, a few millimeters in diameter, that when placed together can be formed into innumerable shapes and patterns. The current recall is part of the settlement of an administrative case filed by CPSC against Maxfield and Oberton Holdings, Inc., in July 2012, which sought a mandatory recall of Buckyballs and Buckycubes (CPSC News Release, 14-172, May 13, 2014).

From 2009 to the present, CPSC has received approximately 54 reports of children and teens ingesting Buckyballs and Buckycubes, with 53 requiring medical attention, many of which required surgery. CPSC has indicated that these products contain defects in the design, warnings, and instructions, and pose a substantial risk of injury and death to children and teenagers.

In July 2012, CPSC filed an administrative complaint against Maxfield and Oberton Holdings, Inc., after discussions with the company and its representatives failed to result in a voluntary recall plan that CPSC considered to be adequate to address the hazard posed by these products. CPSC amended that complaint in May 2013 to add Craig Zucker, the creator of the product, after Maxfield and Oberton Holdings was dissolved.

Zucker, for his part, filed a lawsuit against CPSC in a Maryland federal district court in November 2013, charging the agency with violating his First and Fifth Amendment rights by initiating an administrative action against him in his individual capacity. According to the complaint, Zucker alleged that CPSC’s actions singled him out for selective administrative adjudication to deter him and other corporate officers from exercising their freedom of speech and their right to petition government officials for redress, and/or wrongly predetermined the outcome of the administrative adjudicatory process.

Also in 2013, six retailers agreed to participate in a recall of the magnet sets because Maxfield & Oberton Holdings had refused to participate in the recall of all Buckyballs and Buckycubes.

On May 9, 2014, CPSC approved the settlement agreement after CPSC staff and Zucker, individually, and as an officer of Maxfield and Oberton Holdings, reached a settlement agreement that includes the current recall and ends the legal proceeding. The settlement calls for Craig Zucker to fund a Recall Trust.

CPSC is advising consumers to immediately stop use of all Buckyballs and Buckycubes and check for magnets that have become separated from the set. Funds provided by Zucker will be used to provide a refund to consumers who own and return these magnetic sets. Refunds will be processed through a Recall Trust that will be funded by Zucker, but created and controlled by CPSC.

Once the Recall Trust has been established, consumers will be notified of the process to follow to seek a refund. Owners of Buckyballs and Buckycubes sets will have six months to request a refund.

Individual magnets in Buckyballs and Buckycubes have been sold in the United States at retail stores and online since 2010 for between $5 and $100. Consumers should take the high-powered magnet sets and all associated individual magnets away from children and teenagers and contact the retailer from which they purchased the product to obtain instructions for their remedy.

According to CPSC, the settlement resolves its allegations that the Buckyballs and Buckycubes high-powered magnet sets “create a substantial product hazard.” Zucker continues to dispute the allegations, but has agreed to the recall in settlement of the allegations against him in the complaint.

Companies: Maxfield and Oberton Holdings, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory ProductRecallsNews CPSCNewsStory IndustryNewsStory ChildrensProductsNews HouseholdProductsNews

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