Colorado magnet toy maker still fights defective product claims

A Colorado based company, Zen Magnets, along with 12 other manufacturers of magnetic toys designed for young adults and as adult desk toys, is in the position of having to reevaluate its stand on continuing the products. Twelve of the manufacturers have ceased production in the wake of injuries and defective product claims against them. Zen Magnets, however, appears committed to carrying on the fight. This despite reports that a sizeable number of children and teenagers have suffered injuries that resemble gunshot wounds after accidentally ingesting the products.

The magnets, known as Buckyballs, are designed to be desk toys of for adults, but some teenagers have taken to using them to simulate piercings of the tongue and cheeks. And toddlers apparently have mistaken them for candy. More than 200 cases of ingestion occurred in the past year, leading to emergency medical care and surgery.

The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology has criticized these companies, saying that warning labeling methods have been ineffective. The group says reports of ingestion actually went up after labeling started.

In response to the injuries and the publicity, 11 of 13 makers of the magnets stopped production. Maxfield and Oberton Company, which had been holding out along with Zen Magnets, recently decided to discontinue its line, citing preservation of the industry and the brand they represent.

With the numerous injuries sustained by these so-called toys, it is only logical to expect the manufacturers to step up and be responsible for getting the dangerous products out of the marketplace. And while one might argue that it's the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children aren't misusing toys, the reality is that such oversight is impossible to achieve. That being the case, parents should be aware that they have legal recourse if one of their own suffers injury from this or any other defective product.

Source: CNN, "Magnetic Buckyballs toys discontinued," Ashley Hayes, The Chart, Nov. 2, 2012

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