Buckyball Lawsuit Filed Over Internal Magnet Injury Suffered by 3yr Old

The makers of the recalled Buckyball magnet toys face a personal injury lawsuit that was recently filed by the parents of a three year-old girl who suffered severe internal injuries after accidentally swallowing several of the powerful magnetic balls.

Aaron and Kelli Bushnell filed a complaint in Clark County, Washington Superior Court on October 8, presenting a claim on behalf of their young daughter against Maxfield and Oberton, makers of the discontinued Buckyball rare earth magnets

The child, identified only as “P.B.” in the lawsuit, allegedly swallowed 37 of the colored toy magnets after thinking they were shiny candy, according to a report by Courthouse News Service.

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As the powerful magnets attracted to each other across intestinal walls, they ripped through the little girl’s intestines and her stomach, punching holes, and causing severe blockages.

The incident was similar to other reports of magnet injury associated with Buckyballs and similar magnetic toy sets, which have resulted in a push by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to have all of the powerful, rare earth magnet toys recalled from the market.

According to a magnet information center website published by CPSC, nearly 3,000 children and teenagers swallowed the magnets and had to be treated in emergency rooms nationwide between 2009 and 2013, including the death of a 19-month girl, Annaka Chaffin, after accidentally swallowing the magnets.

If more than one of the powerful magnets are swallowed, they may attract to each other while moving through the intestines. This may cause intestines to twist, create blockages or tear intestinal walls. Often this results in the need for emergency surgery and can result in death or severe life-long health problems.

Initial symptoms associated with swallowing the small magnets may be similar to that of a common flu, consisting of vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain, causing the problems not to be promptly recognized until certain medical examinations are done, further delaying treatment and allowing the magnets to attract.

The CPSC issued new safety rules for toy magnets late last month.

Before the rules, the commission waded into a battle with Maxfield and Oberton and other toy magnet manufacturers to get the devices recalled. While most manufacturers recalled their products after the CPSC determined that warning labels were not effective at preventing injury, the makers of Buckyballs and the makers of Zen magnets fought the CPSC’s efforts.

Eventually, the CPSC filed rare administrative complaints against the two manufacturers, seeking to force an involuntary Buckyball recall and Zen Magnets recall.

The administrative complaints are a way for the CPSC to make a mandatory recall of a dangerous product, and this was the first time in 11 years the regulatory agency has had to take such action in an effort to protect consumers.

In April 2013, the CPSC and a number of major retailers announced a Buckyball and Buckycube recall, calling for customers to return or get rid of the magnet sets.

In July 2014, the CPSC reached a settlement agreement with makers of the Buckyball magnet sets which allows consumers who purchased the sets to receive a refund by visiting Buckyballsrecall.com.

The makers of Zen magnets are still fighting to prevent having to offer customers refunds.

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