Update: Forceful Opinion Piece, Legal Action Animate Debate over CPSC’s Anti-Magnet Crusade

Buckyballs creations; photo: flickr.com
Buckyballs creations; photo: flickr.com

In two past Legal Pulse posts (here and here), WLF’s Mark Chenoweth has criticized the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for its pursuit of a small business that produced the adult desktop magnet item Buckyballs. By demanding (but not requiring) a recall of the magnet toy, alleging that the toy was defective in a lawsuit, and leaning on Buckyballs retailers, CPSC drove the business into bankruptcy. Adding unprecedented insult to injury, the Commission named the company’s founder and CEO personally in a lawsuit. A WLF Legal Backgrounder explains that aspect of the case and its troubling ramifications. Others have weighed in similarly on this questionable tactic.

On November 12 in a Wall Street Journal op-ed ($), Nancy Nord, a recently departed CPSC Commissioner, wrote that with the Buckyballs action, the Commission has “crossed the line” between “safety regulation and overreach.” She continued:

The CPSC action to remove Buckyballs from the market raises serious questions about how the government acts to protect consumers. In its zeal to address a problem that it believes to be a serious safety concern, the CPSC seems to have adopted the philosophy that any action, no matter how heavy-handed and outside established practice, is warranted if it achieves the desired result.

She noted in the op-ed that Buckyballs founder Craig Zucker recently filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit against the CPSC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Ms. Nord wrote that “I hope he (Zucker) wins his lawsuit.”

So do we.