After BuckyBalls surrendered to the Consumer Product Safety Commission the Denver-based company Zen Magnets was the last standing in the tiny-recreational-magnets field, and its founder, 27-year-old Shihan Qu, isn’t planning to go quietly. [WestWord]
- Administration tees up massively expensive regulation docket for after election [Sam Batkins, American Action Forum]
- More on FedEx’s resistance to fed demands that it snoop in boxes [WSJ Law Blog, earlier]
- Ethics war escalates between Cuomo and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, but is sniping in press suitable role for prosecutor? [New York Post, Ira Stoll]
- “Mom Hires Craigslist Driver for 9-Year-Old Son, Gets Thrown in Jail” [Lenore Skenazy]
- One-way fee shifts, available to prevailing plaintiffs but not defendants: why aren’t they more controversial? [New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Watch]
- Water shutoff woes sprang from Detroit’s “pay-if-you-want culture” [Nolan Finley, Detroit News]
- “CPSC Still Trying to Crush Small Round Magnet Toys; Last Surviving American Seller Zen Magnets Fights Back” [Brian Doherty]
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing a voluntary recall of all Buckyballs and Buckycubes. … Refunds will be processed through a Recall Trust that will be funded by Mr. Zucker, but created and controlled by CPSC.
According to Zucker in a press release:
The settlement amount is less than 1% of the original $57 million that the CPSC estimated a recall to cost and is not a fine or penalty….
In February of 2013, the CPSC took unprecedented action by naming Zucker personally under the controversial Park Doctrine as an officer of the company that sold Buckyballs®.
This happened after Zucker, in what was itself an unusual if not unprecedented stand for an executive at a firm subject to CPSC regulation, took a vigorous public stand defending his product against the commission’s recall demands and even employed jokes and caricatures to make fun of CPSC commissioners. Earlier coverage here. More: Nancy Nord.
- U.S. Commission on Civil Rights commissioners Gail Heriot, Peter Kirsanow: Administration’s new policy on race and school discipline likely to make schools more chaotic [Robby Soave, Daily Caller, 2011 related, earlier here, etc.]
- French court: fan club members suffered legally cognizable emotional damage from Michael Jackson’s death [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
- “The Newkirk incident demonstrates why cameras in the courtroom are a bad idea” [James Taranto, includes bonus New York Times disgrace]
- Claim: advocates stymied firearms research over most of past two decades. Accurate? [Fox News]
- Another look at the CPSC’s war on former Buckyballs CEO Craig Zucker [Jim Epstein, Reason, earlier]
- Chris Christie use of monitorships in white-collar prosecutions draws renewed scrutiny [New Republic, earlier]
- In which I am included in a list with George Will and Heather Mac Donald, all very flattering etc. etc. [Charles C. W. Cooke, NRO]
- D.C.: disbarred lawyer sat for years as workers comp judge [Washington City Paper]
- “German home-school family won’t be deported” although Supreme Court declines to hear asylum appeal [AP; discussion in comments earlier]
- Incoming Australian attorney general: we’ll repeal race-speech laws that were used to prosecute columnist Andrew Bolt [Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Herald-Sun, earlier]
- Texas sues EEOC on its criminal background check policy [Employee Screen]
- After Eric Turkewitz criticizes $85M announced demand in Red Bull suit, comments section turns lively [NYPIAB]
- If only Gotham’s official tourism agency acted like a tourism agency [Coyote on NYC’s official war against AirBnB; Ilya Shapiro, Cato; earlier here and here, etc.]
- “Lawmaker wants Georgia bicyclists to buy license plates” [WSB]
- Religious liberty implications of European moves to ban infant circumcision [Eugene Kontorovich]
- Video on CPSC’s quest for personal liability against agency-mocking Craig Zucker of Buckyballs fame [Reason TV, earlier]
- Dropping a legal cinderblock on his head: I’m quoted on CPSC’s aggressive legal action against former Buckyballs CEO Craig Zucker [Barbara Hollingsworth, CNS; NYT covers story; earlier here, etc.] Related, CPSC finally holds public hearing on magnet sets standard [WLF Legal Pulse].
- SCOTUS sleeper Bond v. U.S., on treaty power + toxic love triangle, no longer a sleeper as George Will devotes column to it [syndicated/WaPo, earlier]
- “The Ideological Migration of the Economics Laureates” [Daniel Klein et al, Econ Journal Watch via Tyler Cowen and Arnold Kling]
- Steven Teles’s diagnosis: “Kludgeocracy in America” [National Affairs; reactions from Brink Lindsey (“libertarianism serves as America’s superego while progressivism supplies the ego and id”), Ilya Somin, Nicholas Geiser/CEI “Open Market”]
- Farewell to Blawg Review’s “Ed.,” whose identity I never learned [Ron Coleman/Likelihood of Confusion, ABA Journal, Mark Bennett/Defending People; Overlawyered hosted Blawg Review #33 in 2005 and #220 in 2009; see also mentions and #56 at Point of Law]
- “Emotional linkbait”: police, press rush far ahead of evidence in many claims of bullying-induced suicide [Kelly McBride, Poynter]
- Wow: Columbia, S.C. interim police chief says he’ll come after advocates of pot law reform [Popehat]
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the very disturbing legal war being waged by the Consumer Product Safety Commission against Craig Zucker, CEO of a company that made Buckyballs, the adult magnetic-balls desk toy. After the CPSC decided to ban his product, Zucker fought back in the arena of public opinion, aiming satirical barbs at the commission and individual commissioners. CPSC then proceeded to pull him into the action personally as a party, seeking (on the basis of legal theories rarely if ever used in the past) to tag him with recall liability that the agency estimated at $57 million.
This weekend the Wall Street Journal came out with a big feature on the case, including an interview with Zucker by the Journal’s Sohrab Ahmari. Some highlights:
* At a time when sale of Buckyballs was still quite lawful pending adjudication, “and before Maxfield & Oberton [Zucker’s firm] had a chance to tell its side of the story,” the agency sent letters to major retailers asking that Buckyballs be pulled from shelves; most did, wishing to avoid trouble.
* The “responsible corporate officer” doctrine, which the CPSC cites as grounds for holding Zucker personally liable, has been very seldom invoked in the past, and the circumstances here (including the lack of reference to officer liability in the CPSC’s enabling statute) suggest that the Buckyballs case doesn’t fit. [More on that poor fit in this recent paper, previously linked in this space.]
* As for motives to go after Mr. Zucker, he provided a lot of them. During his attempt to fight the ban, his online “ads pointed out how, under the commission’s reasoning, everything from coconuts (‘tasty fruit or deadly sky ballistic?’) to stairways (‘are they really worth the risk?’) to hot dogs (‘delicious but deadly’) could be banned. Commission staff were challenged to debate Mr. Zucker, and consumers were invited to call Commissioner Inez Tenenbaum’s ‘psychic hotline’ to find out how it was that ‘the vote to sue our company was presented to the Commissioners on July 23rd, a day before our Corrective Action Plan was to be submitted.'” The thing is, you’d think, or hope, that the First Amendment to the Constitution would protect the right of a regulated party to talk back in this way, even disrespectfully.
Buckyballs were a Godsend to our son, Johnny, last summer as he laid in a hospital bed recovering from a serious brain injury. He couldn’t watch TV or look at any type of screen because it hurt his eyes too much. He couldn’t read because it gave him headaches. But he could play with the Buckyballs that we purchased at the HOSPITAL gift store. They made a long stay in the ICU much more tolerable. Ironically, the same week he was in the hospital, an overreaching government agency banned the sales of Buckyballs — even to adults. Read this interview to get the full story on the Buckyballs saga. This is what happens when personal injury lawyers and their allies make the rules. We slowly lose our freedoms.
- In-depth legal analysis of CPSC’s personal targeting of Buckyballs CEO, dangerous precedents it sets [Mark Chenoweth, WLF; paper by Sheila Millar and Kathryn Biszko of Keller and Heckman; earlier here, etc.]
- “She denies performing any ritual cleansing of gold coins, clearing of curses or consulting with Michael the Archangel” [Sun-Sentinel on fortune-teller prosecution]
- High moral ground? You must be kidding: U.S. Department of Justice, SPLC sue to keep poor kids in bad schools [Jason Bedrick and Andrew Coulson, Cato]
- At the intersection of business and religious liberty, Dahlia Lithwick sows confusion [Rick Garnett, Will Baude]
- Why infusing behavioral economics into regulation is likely to prove problematic [Christopher Koopman and Nita Ghei, Mercatus]
- Two views of ENDA [Hans Bader/CEI Open Market, Ken at Popehat]
- Disability Claimant Busted After Appearing on “The Price Is Right” [Lowering the Bar] Does Puerto Rico have an epidemic of mood disorders, or of intended SSDI eligibility? [Tad DeHaven, Cato]