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Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Buckyballs Magnetize Little Girl’s Intestines

VANCOUVER, Wash. (CN) - A 3-year-old girl swallowed 37 rare earth magnets called "Buckyballs" because they looked like "shiny candy," the girl's parents claim in court. They say the powerful magnets "snapped [their daughter's] intestines together, caused blockage, and punched holes in her stomach and intestine.

Maxfield and Oberton made the now-discontinued "Buckyballs," a set of 216 magnets made of neodymium.

The magnets, named after Buckminster Fuller, could be formed into shapes, and were a popular desk toy until they were recalled this year.

The makers of Buckyballs fought with government regulators for several years. In 2012 the Consumer Product Safety Commission sued to stop sales of the magnets, which the commission called a "substantial product hazard."

The commission said that 1,700 children had had to go to emergency rooms after swallowing the magnets in two years.

In an Oct. 8 lawsuit in Clark County, Wash. Superior Court, Aaron and Kelli Bushnell claim their 3-year-old daughter, "P.B.," suffered serious intestinal damage after swallowing 37 Buckyballs.

The Bushnells say their daughter had to have surgery to remove the magnets individually, after she mistook them for "shiny candy."

"Once inside P.B.'s digestive tract, the rare earth magnets snapped P.B.'s intestines together, caused blockage, and punched holes in her stomach and intestine," the complaint states.

She vomited, and the Bushnells took her to a pediatrician, who found the magnets in her abdomen. P.B. was taken to the emergency room, where she underwent surgery to have each magnet removed, according to the complaint.

The Bushnells sued Maxfield and Oberton Holdings LLC and Maxfield and Oberton Holdings Liquidating Trust for product liability and personal injury. They also sued the companies' former general manager and/or CEO Craig Zucker.

The Bushnells say Zucker is the alter ego of Maxfield and Oberton, and that he dissolved the company to avoid responsibility and payment for the harm the magnets caused to children.

The Bushnells are represented by Joseph P. Loughlin of the Harlan Law Firm.

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