Girl Swallows 15 Buckyballs; Parents Sue
CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) - A girl who swallowed 15 magnetic Buckyballs became "completely immobilized" and had to have them surgically removed, her parents claim in court.
The girl and her parents sued Wonder Works, which made the toys, and Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, the distributor, in Charleston County Court.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission had recalled the Buckyballs as unsafe two years before their daughter swallowed them, her parents claim.
They claim that the distributor "publicly and repeatedly voiced contempt for safety general and the CPSC" in ads pushing the Buckyballs after the warnings and recall.
Buckyballs, powerful rare-earth magnets, were labeled for "Ages 13+." The parents say they bought the toys for their unfortunate daughter's older sister, in September 2010.
The parents, Dr. Raymond Turner IV and his wife Magdalena, say the younger sister swallowed 15 of the magnets "on or about May/June 2012."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall in May 2010.
"The press release warned that '[Buckyballs] found by young children can be swallowed or aspirated. If more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforations or blockages, which can be fatal,'" according to the complaint.
The CPSC issued a second press statement in November 2011, saying that "high-powered magnets and children make a deadly mix."
But by then Turners had bought their older daughter a boxed set of 216 magnets.
Next year, "After ingesting the Buckyballs, (their younger daughter) suffered extreme stomach pains that caused her to become completely immobilized and unable to participate in family and school activities," the Turners say in the complaint.
A gastroenterologist couldn't figure it out, so they ordered a colonoscopy, which found "something metallic and magnetic blocking (her) Karolina's upper GI tract."
A surgeon removed 15 Buckyballs from her abdomen.
IN the three years 2009-2011, about 1,700 children who swallowed magnets from magnet sets were treated in emergency rooms across the United States, the complaint states.
The Turners say that despite the repeated government warnings, Maxfield waged a public campaign to discredit the alerts, dismissing them as "baseless and relentless legal badgering."
"Defendant Maxfield has publicly and repeatedly voiced contempt for safety general and the CPSC by making statements such as, 'You don't have kids' and 'don't need the government to tell you not to swallow magnets' and urging the public 'To stick it to the CPSC' in its advertisements," the complaint states. It adds: "See Buckyballs email advertisement attached hereto as Exhibit F."
The Turners seek compensatory and punitive damages and court costs for negligence, negligent hiring, breach of warranty, product liability, and unfair trade.
They are represented by Clayton McCullough, with McCullough Khan in Charleston.