Consumer panel sues maker of magnetic desk toys

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(CNN) — The Consumer Product Safety Commission is suing the maker of popular high-powered magnet “desk toys” to get them to stop selling their products, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

Since 2008, the agency has received reports of 200 cases of children swallowing the tiny, powerful magnets. The magnets can pierce holes in the intestines, and some children have needed multiple surgeries and lengthy hospitalizations.

The commission asked the makers of Buckyballs and Buckycubes to stop selling their products, but they refused, according Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the federal agency.

“We’re doing this to keep children safe,” Wolfson said. “We want to prevent future surgeries.”

Several retailers, including Amazon, Brookstone and Urban Outfitters have agreed to stop selling the magnets.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission rarely files such administrative complaints — the last time it did was 11 years ago against the maker of BB guns, Wolfson said.

A spokesman for Maxfield & Oberton, the maker of Buckyballs and Buckycubes, said the company “will fight this vigorously.”

“There are half a billion magnets out there, and unfortunately there are some people who have misused the product,” said Andrew Frank, the company spokesman. “We market these products to adults age 14 and above, and there are warning labels on the product.”

The company’s website also has warnings posted next to the images of the products.

Meaghin Jordan, whose son swallowed high-powered magnets, said she was “relieved” to hear about the complaint. When he was almost 2-years-old, her son Braylon swallowed eight magnets and spent two months in the hospital, most of it in the intensive care unit.

“This is wonderful,” she said. “I’m very glad they’re taking action. If they can’t sell them, then no one else can get hurt.”

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