The Feds vs. Craig Zucker: Are Regulators Carrying Out a Personal Vendetta Against the Creator of Buckyballs?

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Four years ago, serial-entrepreneur Craig Zucker had a hit product on his hands: Buckyballs, desk toys comprised of supercharged mini magnets, which were flying off the shelves and into the shopping carts of fidgety-handed customers. Zucker's company, Maxfield & Oberton, had sales of $10 million in 2009. 

Zucker's troubles began last year, when the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) filed an administrative complaint that sought to ban and recall the product on the grounds that it was dangerous for children. It's true that if swallowed, these powerful tiny balls can cause int

Forbidden Buckyballs |||

ernal bleeding because they seek to find other magnets when lodged in a person's bowels or intestinal tract. But banning the product was "statistically ridiculous," as a report in the Huffington Post explained. There were 22 reported incidents of ingested Buckeyballs from 2009 to October 2011, or one for every 100,000 sets sold. That means the product is orders of magnitude less risky than dogs, tennis, skateboarding, and poisonous household chemicals. And the product was clearly marked, "Keep Away from All Children."

Finding himself in the cross hairs of federal regulators, Craig Zucker did the opposite of pull back. He went on a publicity rampage to save Buckyballs. Zucker's company even created a poster encouraging supporters to give CPSC Chairwoman Inez Tennenbaum a ring on her "psychic hotline," a reference to how the CPSC claims to have reviewed Maxfield & Oberton's Corrective Action Plan for Buckyballs less than 24 hours after it was submitted, which the company called "plain spooky."

Within a few months, Zucker had conceded defeat. Many stores stopped carrying Buckyballs, sales plummeted, legal fees mounted, and Maxfield & Oberton was dissolved. Then in February 2013, the Consumer Product Safety

Miss Inez's psychic hotline. |||

Commission added Craig Zucker to its complaint, holding him personally liable for the cost of recalling Buckyballs, which the agency claims will come to about $57 million. The case has drawn widespread attention in legal circles because it's the first time the Commission has attempted to hold a former officer personally responsible for the actions of a defunct corporation. The National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association have filed a joint brief on Zucker's behalf.

Is the Consumer Product Safety Commission carrying out a personal vendetta against Craig Zucker? Reason TV Contributor Naomi Brockwell sat down with him to discuss the lawsuit and Liberty Balls, a new product that's being sold to help raise money to cover Zucker's legal fees.

Watch Reason TV's September 2012 interview with Craig Zucker, back when Buckyballs were still on the market and Maxfield & Oberton was fighting for its survival.

Approximately 7.30 minutes.

Hosted by Naomi Brockwell. Written, shot, edited and produced by Jim Epstein. Additional camera by Anthony Fisher.

Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.

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  1. Are Regulators Carrying Out a Personal Vendetta Against the Creator of Buckyballs?

    Yes.

    Next question.

    1. He obviously forgot to file his FYTW form.

  2. "Personal vendetta"?

    Are you attempting to imply a government official, pure as the driven snow, would use his virtually unlimited authority and budget to make life miserable for somebody who failed to avert his eye and doff his hat?

  3. When I heard about this crap a couple of years ago, I ordered two more sets of Bucky Balls. The People's Consumer Product Safety Commission is past the line here. This is not an unusually dangerous product and they got themselves in a snit when the company didn't cowl down to their unreasonable demands.

  4. The Onion : Fun Toy Banned Because of Three Stupid Dead Kids

    I have a set of Buckyballs I bought when this crap started. They're sitting in front of me on my desk. If they went back on sale today I'd buy more sets immediately. Stupid feds.

    But to answer your question, of course it's a personal vendetta. He dated to question them. He's lucky he wasn't the subject of a SWAT raid complete with planted drugs.

  5. Then in February 2013, the Consumer Product Safety Commission added Craig Zucker to its complaint, holding him personally liable for the cost of recalling Buckyballs

    But, but, but, a bunch of leftists on the internet told me that corporate personhood means that executives can order any hideous deed they want and never be held responsible in any way!

    1. You misunderstood; only corporations that give big bucks to Democrats are protected from liability.

    2. Can we stop the left/right argument? We are neither!

  6. Let me guess, he got a letter from the DNC in 2010 asking for a "donation" and he didn't pony up 5 grand.

  7. Huh huh, balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls, huh huh.

  8. Answer: The reason many companies are taking their business overseas.

    What is "Shit like this"?

  9. The government class is the new aristocracy, and its time we built some guillotines.

    Bureaucrats are a cancer that needs to be removed from this country at all costs, and only when they fear for their lives will we be free.

  10. My last pay check was 9500 dolr working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can't believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is what I do---------- http://www.jobs53.com

  11. The youtube video on their site got pulled.
    Some statists have been mashing the report button again.

  12. Children's safe is important. So Buckyballs must be changed.

  13. my neighbor's step-mother makes $81 every hour on the internet. She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her income was $15044 just working on the internet for a few hours. hop over to here.......
    ==========================
    http://www.works23.com
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  14. Evidently baseball and cycling is not occupying enough of our regulators time.

  15. Isn't this a little old? On the main page of http://getbuckyballs.com we find:

    "On December 27, 2012 Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, LLC (the "Company") stopped doing business and filed a Certificate of Cancellation with the Secretary of State of Delaware, thereby ceasing to exist pursuant to applicable Delaware law?"

    Nice to hear Naomi asking to see the guy's balls though.

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