Buckyballs, the CPSC, and the Coconut Menace

It’s rare for a regulated company to mount open and disrespectful resistance to a federal regulatory agency, but that’s what the maker of BuckyBalls, the popular desktop magnetic toy, is doing in response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s effort to ban its product. Powerful magnets can be harmful if swallowed, and the maker of BuckyBalls has extensively warned that they are meant for adult use and should be kept out of kids’ hands. The CPSC considers these warnings inadequate and wants to ban the product even for adult use. As I have noted elsewhere, the agency mounted

an unusually aggressive show of legal muscle to force the product off the market: while suing the manufacturer, it strong-armed retailers into suspending Buckyball sales, thus cutting off the manufacturer’s revenue while a court decides whether the commission had an adequate basis in law and fact for its action.

Further posters in the series compare the risks of other familiar consumer products, namely hot dogs, stairs, and beds, each associated with significant numbers of fatalities and emergency room injuries. Following a recent hearing, seven members of the House signed a letter challenging the CPSC’s unilateral action. More coverage at Overlawyered here.