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Product Liability Law

Magnetix Suits Claim Injuries

Posted Jul 16, 2007 9:57 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Lawsuits against the distributor of Magnetix toys claim children who swallow magnets in the construction sets become seriously ill.

The suits claim magnets that hold the toy’s construction pieces together can fall out of their casings, the New York Times reports. When a child swallows multiple magnets, they clump together in the digestive system, requiring surgery to remove.

A suburban Seattle toddler who swallowed several magnets from the toy died on Thanksgiving 2005, according to a story in a Chicago Tribune series on problems with Magnetix. The Tribune stories concluded the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission lacks effectiveness to remove dangerous toys from retail stores.

Four magnet injury suits are pending, and MEGA Brands of Montreal has paid $13.5 million to settle four lawsuits and 10 claims related to magnet injuries, the New York Times says.

Prodded by the CPSC, MEGA Brands has issued two voluntary recalls of older toys. Despite that effort, the Times says CPSC records show MEGA “delayed answering the government’s requests for information, was uncooperative with the commission and violated the terms of one of the recalls.”

Magnetix toys are manufactured by Rose Art Industries, a company that MEGA acquired in 2005. Rose Art’s former owners are suing MEGA, claiming the company failed to pay them $51 million as the deal required.

MEGA says it doesn’t owe the money, and claims in defense of at least one toy-injury suit that the blame lies with Rose Art.

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