I am afraid that many Americans fail to grasp how serious the effects of toys with hazards can be to small children. A settlement reached in a lawsuit involving great harm done to a young child as the result of swallowing a pair of button magnets is an example of how bad the results can be. William Finley, a 4-year-old, became violently ill on August 2, 2005. At first, doctors were unable to diagnose his ailment. Finally, after two hospital visits, the child had emergency surgery. The surgeon found and removed the magnets which were stuck together within his pelvis. The magnets had come from a “Magnetix” toy the little boy had received the previous Christmas. But for the surgery, the child would have died within hours. Even now, his future will be filled with health issues which will be both costly and dangerous.
The settlement agreement calls for incremental payouts of more than $1 million to William and his parents. It’s reported that the child, who must remain on a special diet for the rest of his life, will endure persistent constipation and diarrhea and severe abdominal pain. He also will be at risk of developing lifelong gastrointestinal problems. The child’s mother will immediately receive $20,000 from Rose Art Industries, the New Jersey manufacturer of the toy. William’s problems have caused the entire family to suffer greatly. For example, his mother lost her job because of having to care for her child and the family car had to be sold because of the mounting expenses.
Rose Art will invest in an annuity that will pay William, now seven years old, $100,000 on his 30th birthday, $200,000 on his 40th birthday and $418,000 on his 50th birthday. Montreal-based Mega Brands, which bought Rose Art in 2005, will invest in an annuity that will pay William $5,000 semiannually between July 1, 2019, and January 1, 2024, and $508 a month during the same period. While all of this sounds very good, the actual cost to the defendants is much less than the total of all the structured payments.
While there was a “choking hazard” label on the Magnetix sets, there was nothing to warn that the tiny magnets that held its pieces together were so powerful that, if ingested, could attract one another and cause intestinal blockages and perforations resulting in serious injury and death. It was alleged in the lawsuit that even after being notified of the potential dangers of the toy, Rose Art failed to institute any clearer warning or conduct a recall of the Magnetix toys. This inaction was said to have led to the serious injury of over 20 children nationwide and to have resulted in one death.
Mega Brands, which is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, settled other lawsuits similar to the Finleys’ suit for a total of $14 million. Magnetix is a modern-day tinker-toy set that attaches parts by magnets imbedded in the ends of various-size plastic sections. In 2005, they were advertised as appropriate for ages “3 to 100.” The recommended minimum age has since been changed to six. By March 2006, when the first of two recalls of the toy was announced, Mega Brands told the New York Times it had redesigned Magnetix, reinforcing the casing surrounding the magnets and was using a stronger adhesive to keep them from falling out. By June 2006, the products had a new caution label warning against the ingestion of magnets, according to the company. This case is a tragic reminder of how dangerous many toys are and especially for very small children. Most parents would never believe swallowing a small part of a toy could cause such pain, suffering and misery, but the manufacturers know that this sort of result is likely.
Source: Sacramento Bee
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