Recalls are a vital tool wielded by the government and by product manufacturers in order to prevent widespread injury or illness in association with an item defect. But the entire operation can be undermined if a company fails to accurately comply with the directives of the law.
That’s what the Consumer Product Safety Commission is alleging took place with a company known as Battat Inc. The CPSC’s accusations regarding the potentially delayed recall of the Magnabild Magnetic Building Sets have led the company to incur a $400,000 penalty. Battat has agreed to settle for this figure, and the CPSC has provisionally approved the decision by a 4-0 vote, according to a release from their website.
It all started in October 2005, when the CPSC says Battat received its first complaint in association with the Magnabild set. This product was found to be in danger of having small magnets fall out. A child could then swallow this magnetic piece. If more than one is consumed, it would pose a significant danger, as the magnets could attract one another and either block or perforate the child’s intestines.
It wasn’t until October 2007 that Battat reported 16 incidents, including two ingestion situations, to the CPSC, months after the CPSC initially contacted Battat in July. The CPSC believes that Battat was markedly aware of the danger posed, largely due to a prior recall of the Rose Art Magnetix Building Set, an item which led to one death and four severe injuries.
That’s not all. After November 2006 and prior to July 2007, the CPSC reissued the Rose Art recall, sent out a special Magnet Safety Alert, and came out with five recalls encompassing millions of toys because of the risk posed by magnets inside these items.
Despite three requests by the CPSC, Battat didn’t report the necessary information to the organization until October 2007, and even then, they failed to disclose a defect or acknowledge the possible hazard. The CPSC says this came despite the CPSC’s claims that the company understood the risk going all the way back to the spring of 2006.
The recall was eventually issued in January 2008, and hundreds of thousands of units were affected. In coming to a settlement, the CPSC alleges that Battat failed to disclose within 24 hours information pertaining to a defect discovered within a product.
For their part, Battat denies any wrongdoing. They say that their product not only does not put a child at risk for death or injury, but that a defect doesn’t even exist with the products. They also say they have complied with the Consumer Product Safety Act’s reporting requirements.