January 17th is the deadline to receive a refund on the high-powered, rare-earth magnet sets known as Buckyballs. On July 17, 2014 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the refund remedy for consumers who purchased Buckyballs and Buckycubes sets. Consumers may receive a refund no greater than the purchase price of the product, and partial refunds may be provided depending on the number of magnets returned. If you have Buckyballs in your house, it is important that you visit BuckyballsRecall.com today to sign up for the recall.
Maxfield & Oberton and its co-creator, Craig Zucker, released Buckyballs at the New York International Gift Fair in 2009. At first, they were an interesting curiosity, but the CPSC quickly realized that children were swallowing the magnets, suffering severe injuries. Using emergency room data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance Survey (NEISS), the CPSC estimated that from January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2011, there were 1,700 magnet ingestions.
Initially, the CPSC attempted to work with the manufacturer to keep the product on the marketplace with amended warning labels. In November 2011, the CPSC released an alert warning that “when two or more magnets are swallowed they can attract one another internally resulting in serious injuries such as small holes in the stomach and intestines, intestinal blockage, blood poisoning and even death.” But extensive consumer information and warnings about the hazard failed to stem the number of ingestions and injuries.
In May 2010, the company agreed to recall about 175,000 sets. The company rebranded and marketed Buckyballs as “an adult executive desk toy and/or stress reliever,” but the injuries to children continued to mount. A struggle to remove Buckyballs from the marketplace commenced, setting up a multiyear between the CPSC and Craig Zucker, the co-creator of Buckyballs.
In July 2012, after discussions with the company failed, the CPSC filed an administrative complaint against Maxfield & Oberton, seeking a recall of Buckyballs and Buckycubes. The CPSC argued that the warnings and labeling were ineffective, and that the product, as designed, was defective and hazardous and posed a substantial risk of injury.
By December 2012, Maxfield & Oberton had shuttered its doors to avoid the expense and effort of a recall, but about 2.5 million Buckyball sets were still in consumers’ hands. In May 2013, CPSC took the unprecedented step of holding Zucker personally liable for the product recall.
After another two years of legal disputes, Buckyballs were voluntarily recalled on May 12, 2014. It is now illegal under federal law for any person to sell, offer for sale, manufacture, distribute in commerce, or import into the United States any Buckyballs or Buckycubes magnetic set.
The Recall Trust was announced in July 2014. In September 2014, the CPSC approved a federal safety standard for high-powered magnet sets and individual magnets that are marketed or intended for use as part of a magnet set.
CPSC data from 2009 to 2013 estimate there are 580 poisoning ingestions each year from rare-earth magnets. Two days remain to submit requests to The Recall Trust. If you have a set of Buckyballs or Buckycubes, it is important to take action today.