Federal agency sues individual in defective products case

Miami business owners have the responsibility to create products that work as intended and cause no harm to consumers. In a product recall, it is typically the business that is held liable for removing the product from the market and issuing refunds to customers. So why is the government suing an individual?

A New York man created Buckyballs in 2009. Often used as a desk toy, Buckyballs are small magnets that can be stacked and shaped in various forms. Since then, it is estimated that more than 1,000 children have required surgery after swallowing small magnets – not necessarily Buckyballs. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is asking stores to cease selling these products. It is also asking that Maxfield and Oberton, the company that creates Buckyballs, issue a recall and refund customers.

The problem is that Maxfield and Oberton is no longer in existence. The creator of Buckyballs shut down the business at the end of 2012, but that didn’t matter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Because the agency couldn’t hold the company responsible, it filed a lawsuit to hold the creator responsible. This means that the 34-year-old man could end up paying $57 million in the recall. Two other companies – Star Networks USA and Zen Magnets – sell similar toys and were also named in the lawsuit.

Typically, individuals have protection in cases involving defective products, which makes this situation rare. The man has dissolved the company and likely does not have the funds to participate in recall, so it will be interesting to see how the Consumer Product Safety Commission fairs with its lawsuit.

SourceThe Washington Post, “Federal regulators suing Buckyballs founder in rare product-recall case” Josh Hicks, Jan. 05, 2014