Buckyballs: The Ball of Rights
There is much to-do about magnets lately. We wrote previously about the lawsuit filed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) against Craig Zucker, CEO of Maxfield and Oberton, the manufacturer of Buckyballs.
From that post, we heard from Scott Wolfson, director of communications for the CPSC, who offered some observations as well as some clarifications. First, the CPSC has NOT forced a mandatory recall of Buckyballs, nor any of the rare earth magnet products sold by two other companies also party to the lawsuit filed by the staff of the CPSC. Wolfson pointed out that this legal action is a "lawsuit to achieve" that recall. As such, the first level of appeal of any ruling for Zucker, or either of the other two manufacturers who are parties to the suit, is the CPSC commissioners themselves, and that's an important distinction. Wolfson went on to say, "While there are three parties to the suit, 10 other manufacturers (of rare earth magnets) 'did the right thing' and pulled their products off the market."
Also at issue is the large cost of the recall, estimated by the CPSC at $57 million, as well as determining who is responsible for those costs. The CPSC wants the court to find Zucker personally liable for the cost of the recall under what is known as the "responsible corporate officer doctrine." The CPSC's position is that once Maxfield and Oberton ceased operations, there was no longer a viable corporate entity to hold responsible for Buckyballs' portion of the 1,700 emergency room visits related to rare earth magnet products between 2009 and 2011.
This week Zucker filed a counter suit against the CPSC claiming the commission has no jurisdiction and seeking an injunction to stop the CPSC suit. Zucker has also retained government accountability group Cause of Action to bolster his efforts.
Jeff is executive director of the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA). Prior to that, he was responsible for developing safe and compliant brand merchandise for Michelin. He has worked with brands in publishing, consumer products, broadcasting and film for over 30 years. Follow Jeff on Twitter, and QCA on Facebook.