Products LiabilityOM


High-Powered Magnets and Personal Injury

A Holiday Gift-Giving Warning

As the holiday season approaches, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a stark but necessary warning for shoppers regarding trendy, high-powered magnet desk toys aimed at adults — keep them out of kids’ hands. The CPSC has noticed a surge in the number of reported incidents in the last several years — from one in 2009 to 14 through October of this year alone.

The powerful magnetic ball bearings, such as BuckyBalls and Nanospheres, pose a very potent threat to children because they are small enough to be ingested, and if multiple magnets are swallowed, they attract one another and can create a range of serious injuries, including holes through internal organs, blood poisoning and death. The CPSC stated that victims’ ages range from 18 months to 15 years old, as teenagers have recently been using the magnets to simulate tongue, nose and cheek piercings.

Here are some tips for keeping children safe and what to look for if you think they may have swallowed high-powered magnets.

  • Keep small magnets and small pieces containing magnets away from young children who might swallow them.
  • Look out for loose magnet pieces — regularly inspect toys and children’s play areas for missing or dislodged magnets.
  • Magnetized desk toys should be kept in a room not accessible to kids or stored in a desk drawer where they cannot easily access them.
  • Talk with your children, especially teens, about the dangers of playing with these magnets or using them to simulate piercings.
  • If you have dogs, make sure that small magnets or toys containing magnets are kept out of their sleeping and eating areas.
  • If you suspect that magnets have been swallowed, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Look for abdominal symptoms, such as abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Note that in x-rays multiple magnetic pieces may appear as a single object.

Share this CPSC video with your kids to let them know that these magnets are not toys and that magnetic piercings can be dangerous.

If someone in your family has been harmed by swallowing high-powered magnetic desk toys, you will want the best and most experienced legal representation. Osborn Machler is one of the most knowledgeable and successful legal firms in the nation in dealing with magnetic product liability and personal injury cases. In 2005, the firm filed a case on behalf of the family of a 22-month-old Redmond, Wash., boy who died after swallowing eight magnets that had come apart from one of his toys. This case established Osborn Machler a leader in magnetic litigation and resulted in:

  • A voluntary recall issued by CPSC for magnetized toys after more families came forward
  • Increased focus, standards and industry-wide testing for similar products
  • Millions of dollars in settlements for the families of the victims across 10 different states

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