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Buckyballs rolled in federal recall

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Five years after targeting two magnetic products that were never declared unsafe, the Consumer Product Safety Commission settled for bitcoins.

CPSC estimated that recalling Buckyballs and Buckycubes — high-powered magnetic sets that can be shaped by hand — would cost $57 million. But when faced with a lawsuit, the federal agency took less than 1 percent of that amount, or $375,000.

Craig Zucker, former CEO of Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, called the settlement “a victory for me and for small-business owners across the United States.”

Dan Epstein, executive director of the public-interest group Cause of Action, said the commission’s actions smacked of politics.

“The CPSC’s actions regarding Craig Zucker are not about consumer safety, they’re about punishing an entrepreneur who dared to speak out against the federal government,” said Epstein, whose organization threatened to sue the agency.

“The years spent by the CPSC targeting a product that has never been declared unsafe and pursuing overzealous litigation against Craig Zucker are yet another example of a federal agency gambling with taxpayer dollars to test its own power,” he said.

In the heat of the battle, Zucker put up a “Save Our Balls” website that ridiculed government overreach. The site noted that similar magnetic products remained on the market while CPSC ordered retailers to pull Buckyballs from their shelves.

Maxfield & Oberton went out of business in December 2012.

Zucker said he spent more in legal fees than the $370,000 he will pay CPSC.

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