Liability for Injuries to Children Playing With Buckyballs and Extra Strong Magnets
UPDATED: September 23, 2014
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All products sold to consumers must be reasonably safe, with extra vigilance required of toys. When children are injured from a product, the manufacturer of that product, and potentially any other business in the chain of distribution, including the retailer or distributor, may be responsible.
Substantial Risk of Injury From Extra Strong Magnets and Buckyballs
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has found that some extra strong magnets, including Buckyballs, pose a substantial risk of injury to the public. Buckyballs are small, round magnets composed of rare-earth elements that make them much more powerful than most magnets. Extra strong magnets and Buckyballs are dangerous if swallowed because they can become lodged inside the throat or lungs, leading to choking, difficulty breathing, and/or tissue damage. A serious danger exists when more than one of these extra strong or Buckyball magnets is swallowed. Magnetic attraction between these small objects can cause intestinal perforations or blockage, sometimes requiring surgery.
Children and Teenagers At Risk
Many incidents of harm caused by extra strong magnets and Buckyballs involve young children, but teenagers also risk injury. They may not intentionally put magnets in their mouth, but they have used the round magnets to mimic body piercings, such as a nose or tongue stud.
Because of the serious nature of the possible injuries, the CPSC and several companies issued a recall of Buckyballs and other extra strong magnetic toys, but the magnets continued to pose a serious hazard to children despite the recall and a change in the labeling of the product. As a result, under federal law, Buckyballs and other extra strong magnets have been banned from production and sale.
Product Liability Laws Protect Consumers From Defective Products
Product liability law protects consumers from unsafe and defective products like these extra strong magnets and Buckyballs. Manufacturers of any product must ensure that their product is safe for normal use. They are also required to take steps to prevent any foreseeable misuse of their product. Extra strong magnets and Buckyballs may not have been intended as a child’s toy, but it may be foreseeable that the small, candy-sized nature of the balls would entice a child to place one of these magnets into his or her mouth.
Distributors and retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar stores, also have a duty to ensure the safety of their customers. So, if an injury to a child from an extra strong magnet or Buckyball was foreseeable, distributors and retailers may be liable. Furthermore, once a product has been recalled or banned, as these products were, the distributor and retailer are considered to have notice of the product’s dangerous nature. They are to stop production, distribution, and sale of the product.
If you or your child has been harmed by an extra-strong magnetic toy or similar product, consult with a products liability attorney to determine if you are entitled to compensation and to further protect your rights.