WASHINGTON D.C. (CBS4) - A federal judge ordered a Colorado company on Wednesday to recall small but powerful magnets that can cause fatal injuries when swallowed.
Zen Magnets LLC had previously been issued a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the company from continuing to sell the magnets. On Tuesday, the judge made this permanent, ordering the company to conduct a recall.
Zen Magnets must provide refunds to customers who return the magnets and destroy those remaining in their inventory.
The court found that Zen Magnets purchased approximately 917,000 small magnets highly discounted from a company that one week later agreed to recall those magnets. The judge ruled that Zen Magnets violated the Consumer Product Safety Act by reselling them.
"We are pleased that the district court recognized that putting a dangerous consumer product in a different box and calling it a different name does not permit a company to circumvent a recall," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer in a statement.
Zen Magnets had argued that the magnets were not covered by the recall because they had been placed in different packaging and sold under a different name. The judge rejected that, and said the company's owner, Shihan Qu, knew that when he purchased the magnets in July 2014, the seller was about to enter an agreement to recall the magnets, and that it would likely soon be illegal to sell them.
By allowing consumers to return the magnets, the judge said it will further reduce the likelihood of injury by the product.
"Far too many children have been rushed into hospital emergency rooms to have multiple, high-powered magnets surgically removed from their stomachs. Young children have suffered infections and one child tragically died from swallowing loose magnets that often look like candy. The ruling is a major victory for the safety of consumers," said U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's chairman.
The magnets are typically sold in sets of hundreds and commonly marketed as "sculptural" desk toys. According to the CPSC, when a person ingests more than one, the magnets attract each other while in the digestive system, creating the potential for serious damage.
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