Toy manufacturer Battat Incorporated, headquartered in Plattsburgh, New York, will pay a civil penalty of $400,000, according to an announcement by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
According to allegations made by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Battat did not report a known safety hazard presented by its product Magnabild Magnetic Building Sets within the time limits specified by federal guidelines. According to the commission, in October of 2005 Battat received consumer complaints that small magnets inside of the toy can fall out, posing a choking hazard to small children if swallowed, but the company did not report the safety hazard for two years. By the time the manufacturer reported the potential issue to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the company had received 16 reports of the magnets coming loose from the building sets and two reports involving children who ingested non-magnetized steel balls that came loose from the Magnabild Magnetic Building Sets, the commission alleges.
In 2006, the commission announced a recall of the Rose Art Magnetix Building Set following 34 reported incidents of magnets coming loose from the toy, including four incidents that lead to serious injuries and one instance that lead to a death. In response to this recall, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a Magnet Safety Alert, warning that swallowing magnets can be dangerous or even fatal to small children. In the event that a child swallows more than one magnet, the magnets can become attracted to each other and attached, possibly causing intestinal blockages or perforations, which can deadly.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s allegations, Battat would have been aware of the dangers posed to children by its product between November 2006 and July 2007, because in addition to the Rose Art Magnetix Building Set and the Magnet Safety Warning, the commission issued five other recalls including millions of magnetic children’s toys due to loose magnets during that time period. The commission alleges that the company failed to report the dangers posed by its Magnabild Magnetic Building Sets, even after the commission made three requests to the manufacturer. When Battat filed a report in October of 2007, the CPSC alleges that the manufacturer failed to report the potential safety hazard posed by Magnabild Magnetic Building Sets, as well as two other models of the product.
In January of 2008, the company and the CPSC announced a voluntary recall including more than 100,000 Magnabuild play sets, and the recall was later expanded two months later. Under United States law manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are required to report any potential product defect that poses a high risk of severe injury and death within 24 hours of obtaining information supporting that conclusion.