- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Toy company Mega Brands America Inc. agreed Tuesday to pay a $1.1 million civil penalty for failing to report promptly faulty magnetic building sets blamed in the death of a child.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says tiny magnets can fall out of toys and be swallowed or inhaled by children. If more than one magnet is swallowed, they can attach to each other and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage.

In December 2005 Mega Brands, formerly Rose Art Industries Inc., reported the death of a 22-month-old child to the CPSC. He died when he ingested magnets from a Magnetix set, which attached to each other in his small intestine and created a fatal blockage.

But the company didn’t report a pattern of incidents involving its imported Magnetix toys, instead blaming rough play for detached magnets that caused the death. According to CPSC, Rose Art was aware of more than 1,100 reports of magnets falling out of the toys and at least one report of a child injured after ingesting one of the Magnetix magnets.

Magnetix building toys were recalled in March 2006 and this recall was expanded in April 2007. But the agency says the company failed to comply with a federal law that requires them to report defective products immediately.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority,” said Harold Chizick, the company’s vice president of marketing. “We’re happy to have worked with the CPSC to have come to an agreement.”

Rose Art was acquired by Mega Bloks Inc. in July 2005. The company, which changed its name to Mega Brands in June 2006, says it was unaware of the defects at the time of the acquisition.

Chizick says Mega Brands is in court with the original owners of Rose Art over this issue.

Mega Brands recalled more magnetic toys in March 2008. CPSC says the company properly reported the incidents that lead to the third recall.

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