May 2014 brought an ordinary end to a series of extraordinary events, with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) settling an unprecedented proceeding against Craig Zucker, the former CEO of Buckyballs® manufacturer Maxfield and Oberton Holdings, LLC (“Maxfield and Oberton”). The CPSC had sought to hold Zucker personally liable for a product recall. In the Matter of Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, LLC, CPSC Docket Nos. 12-1, 12-2, 1302 (May 3, 2013). Zucker responded by suing the CPSC for injunctive relief and a declaration that the CPSC’s actions violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights.
SOUND AND FURY, SIGNIFYING NOTHING? -
Despite estimating the cost of recall to be $57 million, the CPSC settled with Zucker for $375,000—less than one percent of the estimated cost. Pursuant to the settlement, Zucker initiated a voluntary recall that offers a refund to consumers. Of the $375,000 settlement amount, $75,000 is to be used to publicize the recall and conduct a notice campaign pursuant to Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act. The rest of the settlement will fund the consumer refunds. Zucker did not admit that Buckyballs® were defective, a substantial product hazard, or children’s toys; or that the CPSC had jurisdiction over him as an individual. The settlement is only in Zucker’s capacity as a responsible corporate officer, and not on behalf of Maxfield and Oberton.
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