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CORRECTED-U.S. seeks halt to sale of Buckyballs magnetic toys
July 25, 2012 / 7:59 PM / 5 years ago

CORRECTED-U.S. seeks halt to sale of Buckyballs magnetic toys

(Corrects to show that commission seeks halt to sale, not that ban is in place)

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON, July 25 (Reuters) - The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) m oved to h alt th e s ale of Buckyballs magnetic toys on Wednesday, calling them a serious hazard in the pa nel’s fir st law sui t see king a stop-sale order in 11 years.

The commission approved a complaint to stop distributor Maxfield and Oberton Holdings of New York from selling the items because injuries to children who had swallowed them had continued to rise.

“Notwithstanding the labeling, warnings and efforts taken by (Maxfield and Oberton), ingestion incidents continued to rise because warnings are ineffective,” the CPSC complaint said. It said the magnets presented a “substantial product hazard.”

The case will be heard before an administrative law judge.

Buckyballs are small, powerful round rare earth magnets that are sold as toys and desktop accessories. When children swallow them they can pinch or trap intestines and require surgery to remove, the CPSC said.

Since they went on the market in 2009, numerous incidents involving children have been reported. In January 2011, a 4-year-old boy had his intestine perforated after he swallowed three magnets he thought were chocolate candy, the complaint said.

Although the commission issued a safety alert in November, it has received more than a dozen reports since then of children ingesting the magnets, with many requiring surgery, it said.

More than 2 million Buckyballs and at least 200,000 Buckycubes, a similar cube-shaped magnet, have been sold in the United States. They were made in China, the complaint said.

The complaint asks that Maxfield and Oberton cease importation and distribution of the magnets and issue refunds. The company must also tell retailers to stop distributing the toys.

Maxfield and Oberton founder and Chief Executive Craig Zucker said his company marketed the magnets to adults and teenagers and the CPSC held the “absurd position” that warnings did not work.

“We will vigorously fight this action taken by President Obama’s handpicked agency,” he said in an emailed statement.

A CPSC spokesman said the stop-sale law suit was the first by the commission in 11 years. (Reporting by Ian Simpson; editing by Todd Eastham)

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