Magnet company cofounder sues safety commission

The man behind a desktop magnet toy is launching a lawsuit against federal consumer safety regulators.

The accountability watchdog group Cause of Action is representing Craig Zucker, co-founder of the company that sold Buckyballs, in a case against the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Zucker says that the safety commission went beyond its authority by trying to hold him liable for a recall of the magnets, which the CPSC maintains could be harmful to children.

“For too long I have been a target of the CPSC and I am no longer willing to just take it,” Zucker said in a statement. "Despite over zealous regulators targeting me in the first place for speaking out, I am now taking legal action to defend myself against the CPSC’s egregious attempt at rewriting our cherished laws of limited liability."

Last year, the safety commission filed a lawsuit against the company that makes Buckyballs to get it to recall the toy, at an estimated cost of $57 million. In May, it named Zucker in the suit.

“The Commission has committed an unprecedented act by attempting to hold an individual entrepreneur liable for a recall that CPSC is seeking against a company that it forced out of business,” Cause of Action Executive Director Dan Epstein added in a statement. “The CPSC’s actions against Mr. Zucker are a very real threat to the liberty of every small business owner nationwide.”

The CPSC has said children sometimes eat the Buckyball magnets and then, while in their stomachs, they become attracted to each other and can rip through internal organs, causing serious injuries.

“Too many children have suffered serious injuries from the ingestion of high powered magnets,” CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said in a statement. “Through enforcement, education, and rulemaking, CPSC is working to keep children safe and reduce their exposure to this hazard — a hazard that doctors have described as a gunshot wound to the gut with no sign of entry or exit.”

He added that the commission “continues to stand behind” its lawsuit.

In addition to the lawsuit unveiled this week, Cause of Action is also filing a Freedom of Information Act request to release details about the decision to personally name Zucker in its legal case.

Last month, Zucker launched a campaign to raise funds for his legal battle by selling new products. 

— This story was updated at 2:28 p.m. with the CPSC spokesman's comment and at 10:00 a.m. on Nov. 14 to clarify Craig Zucker's role in selling Buckyballs.