Increased Complaints of Serious Injuries in Children Leads to Buckyball Makers Liquidation

Parker Waichman LLP® reports that Buckyball maker, Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, LLC, is being liquidated following mounting complaints of serious injuries in children.

Now, Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, LLC is in liquidation, has ceased to exist under Delaware law, and has dissolved following mounting safety concerns over children swallowing and being injured by the dangerous magnetic toys.

On December 27, 2012, the company stated that they have “stopped doing business and filed a Certificate of Cancellation with the Secretary of State of Delaware, thereby ceasing to exist pursuant to applicable Delaware law.” The statement also said that a liquidating trust has been created to potentially pay for certain claims against the company. Consumers who believe they have a claim against the Buckyballs makers are advised to fill out a Proof of Claim form.

Buckyballs, and a related product known as Buckycubes, have come under scrutiny due to reports in recent months that children can be seriously injured when swallowing the tiny magnets. The toys are typically sold in sets of 100 or more, and are composed of a rare-earth mineral known as neodymium; neodymium magnets are at least 15 times more powerful than regular magnets.

When more than one neodymium magnet is ingested, they attract to one another within the digestive tract. When swallowed, these magnets can link together inside a child’s intestines and clamp onto bodily tissue, causing intestinal obstructions, perforations, sepsis, and death; internal damage from these magnets can pose serious lifelong health effects. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), high-powered magnet sets are sold as sculptures, puzzles, and stress relievers marketed to adults; however, the tiny, shiny nature of the product has a strong appeal to children and poses a serious potential for high-severity injuries.

In July, the CPSC filed a lawsuit against Maxfield & Oberton in an attempt to stop the sale of Buckyballs and, last year, warned the public that swallowing Buckyballs and other similar magnetic toys could lead to intestinal blockage, blood poisoning, and death. Meanwhile, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) pointed out that there were some 1,700 emergency room (ER) visits related to swallowing the magnetic toys between 2009 and 2011. Most ER visits involved children four-11 years of age.

A study by the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, revealed that over 200 cases of magnet-ingestion were reported in the past year alone. Some 80 percent of these cases, between 2008 and 2012, required endoscopy or surgery; some patients required sections of their bowels to be removed.

According to Consumer Reports, Maxfield & Oberton stopped selling Buckyballs as of December 19th, saying its decision was based on “…the-precedent setting legal case before us, and the continued badgering by the [Consumer Product Safety Commission]”.

We recently wrote that the Commission put in place a notice of proposed rulemaking following two lawsuits it previously filed seeking to have Buckyballs and Buckycubes magnet toys and another similar toy, Zen Magnet Rare Earth Magnet Balls, toy sets removed from the market. As we’d also reported previously, 11 manufacturers and/or importers of similar magnet sets voluntarily agreed to the CPSC request to stop their manufacture, import, distribution, and sale. Zen Magnets and Maxfield & Oberton, the maker of Buckyballs, are the only companies that refused to comply. Both companies vowed to fight the CPSC’s lawsuits; Maxfield long argued that its toys are for and marketed to adults, and carry clear warning labels.

This summer, Health Canada issued a warning regarding the danger associated with high-powered magnet toys, calling them “a recognized health hazard to children of all ages” that should be kept away from children.


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