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Manufacturer Agrees to Recall Rare Earth Magnets

After a long regulatory battle, the manufacturer of sets of small, high-powered magnets known as Buckyballs agreed to recall the toys.

People of all ages are fascinated by magnets. In recent years, the power of attachment took a giant leap forward with the development of magnets from new materials with exceptionally high magnetic power.

Although not “rare,” these rare earth magnets began to appear in household products and toys more than a decade ago. One manufacturer, Maxfield and Oberton Holdings, LLC, created a set of rare earth spheres called Buckyballs, or Buckycubes, first as a toy for children, then solely as an executive toy for adults. The danger of the toy sets soon became apparent.

Buckyballs proved hazardous in the following ways:

  • Given the small size, Buckyballs are easily ingested.
  • Once in the body, rare earth magnets bind to each other, causing blockages, tissue damage and perforations.
  • Surgery is often needed to remove the magnets from the body, introducing additional dangers.

In 2012, the Consumer Product Safety Agency (CPSC) initiated regulatory action against Maxfield and Oberton. In 2013, the agency individually included the remaining owner of the firm, Craig Zucker, in the legal action.

In May of this year, Mr. Zucker entered into an agreement with the CPSC to create a recall fund of approximately $375,000. The agreement calls for Mr. Zucker to fund and advertise the recall, and relieves him of individual liability for injury caused by the product.

Terms of the recall include the return of more than half of each magnet set and proof of purchase. Although many are not likely to qualify for a refund, the action does make sale or resale of the toy illegal in the United States.

When you have questions about a defective toy or product in Indiana, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Merrillville.