Billings residents who read a previous post on this blog about the danger of magnetic toys may be interested to learn that the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission has filed a lawsuit against two companies that import the unsafe toys.

The CPSC asked 13 American companies to voluntarily stop importing and selling the dangerous products, all of which are manufactured in China. Eleven of the companies complied with the CPSC request, but the two companies involved in the lawsuit refused to enter into a satisfactory voluntary recall agreement.

The high-powered rare earth magnets are commonly marketed as adult desk toys, but the CPSC has documented more than two dozen incidents since 2009 in which children suffered injury after swallowing the magnets. Ingestion of more than one magnet poses a risk that the magnets will pinch off sections of the intestinal tract. Many of the reported cases required surgery.

One of the companies originally agreed to label the magnetic toys as suitable only for ages 14 and up, but the CPSC asked the company to stop selling the defective product altogether after the agency received increasing reports about injuries to children. The company refused, so the agency filed suit seeking a court-ordered recall and a full refund to everyone who purchased the product.

The second company responded to CPSC warning label requests by adding warning statements that seemed to mock the safety concerns identified by the government agency. The CPSC complaint again demands a complete recall of the dangerous products and a full refund to consumers.

The fact that the CPSC went to the lengths of filing lawsuits against these companies demonstrates the strength of the government’s belief that these magnetic toys pose a real risk of serious injuries. This is only the second time the CPSC has filed this kind of lawsuit in the past 11 years.

These two companies appear to have recklessly disregarded the government’s warnings about the dangers of magnetic toy products. The parents of any child injured by products these companies sold will have good grounds to seek damages in a product liability lawsuit.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “CPSC Sues Zen Magnets Over Hazardous, High-Powered Magnetic Balls,” Aug. 7, 2012