Powerful Rare-Earth Magnets Result In Lawsuits, Recalls

A warning about magnets in toys this holiday season, despite years of lawsuits and recalls.

Small rare-earth magnets are known for their super strength, and can cause serious gastrointestinal injuries when kids swallow them.

Thousands of children have ended up in the emergency room after swallowing them, causing many magnetic toys to be recalled or even banned.

Some of these cases have also ended up in court.

Between 2006 and 2018, 10 lawsuits were filed against companies that used powerful small rare-earth magnets in their products.

The first was filed by a California boy's mother who sued Rose Art Industries after William Finley got a Magnetic toy building set as a gift.  He suffered intestinal and abdominal injuries after swallowing them.

In 2011, a class-action lawsuit resulted in a $3.5 million dollar settlement paid out by Mega Brands over dangerous magnetic toys.

In March of this year the parents of Braylon Jordan of Mississippi asked for a $20 million settlement against the makers of Buckyballs.

At 22 months, Braylon has swallowed eight Buckyballs and had to have his intestines and bowel removed, causing life-long complications.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission banned Zen Magnets and Neoballs in 2017.  To date, some 20 magnet products have been recalled.

But as one KELOLAND family found out, it's not just magnetic toys that can pose a danger to young children.

In 2016, Copper Chef created a patent for these magnetic trivets, using the same kind of rare-earth magnets in toys.

The silicone hot-pads had magnets so they would stick to cookware and protect surfaces from heat. 

The Trias family got a Copper Chef cookware set containing the trivets as a gift last winter. 

Attorney Seamus Culhane: There's a dangerous product out there in household goods that's readily available.
Kennecke: And people would have no clue?
Culhane: Yeah I didn't even know what a trivet was until the Trias sat down at my desk and I'm a cook.

The Trias family sought out Watertown attorney Seamus Culhane after their youngest child, Monty swallowed four powerful magnets that he poked out of a Copper Chef trivet.

On Tuesday night's KELOLAND News Investigation, we show you what happened to Monty after he swallowed the powerful rare earth magnets and why his family says, unlike other cases around the country that ended up in court, they don't have that option. 

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