Washington Post: Buckyballs founder agrees to product recall in settlement with federal regulators

Read the full story: Washington Post

Cause of Action, a conservative legal group assisting Zucker with his legal defense, said the businessman agreed to pay less than 1 percent of the $57 million the commission once estimated the recall effort would cost.

Zucker claimed the CPSC sued him as an act of retaliation after he criticized the agency for heavy-handed enforcement actions the allegedly crippled his business. Cause of Action said in a statement on Monday that the Buckyballs case represented “yet another example of a federal agency gambling with taxpayer dollars to test its own power.”

Cause of Action said it is pursuing litigation against the CPSC to uncover documents that might show the commission “values retaliation against its critics above its own mission to protect consumers.”

Cause of Action statement concerning Craig Zucker and the Consumer Product Safety Commission

With the help of Cause of Action, Craig Zucker fought back against the government, and this settlement is evidence that the government caved under pressure. 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. 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.

If the CPSC’s goal was consumer safety, why is it settling for an amount that covers less than one percent of its original $57 million recall estimate? To get the answer, Cause of Action is continuing to pursue our FOIA litigation against the CPSC to expose an agency that values retaliation against its critics above its own mission to protect consumers.  The CPSC’s choice to settle proves that the government’s conduct was worthy of criticism.

Cause of Action Sues CPSC for Withholding Documents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                 CONTACT:      

April 1, 2014                                                                                                       Mary Beth Hutchins, 202-400-2721

Cause of Action Sues CPSC for Withholding Documents

What is the Consumer Product Safety Commission Trying to Keep from the Public About Buckyballs?

WASHINGTON – Cause of Action (CoA), a government accountability organization, sued the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today for failing to release documents to the public about Craig Zucker, the former CEO of the company that sold Buckyballs. Well past the statutory 20 day deadline, the CPSC has yet to produce any documents in response to a November 12, 2013 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request CoA submitted.

“This administration was just pegged with the title the ‘most secretive’ administration in history and the CPSC’s refusal to produce documents is another example of that spirit of secrecy,” said CoA Executive Director Dan Epstein. “Americans have an interest in how federal agencies conduct oversight, and the CPSC’s consistent unresponsiveness to our inquiry is a disservice to the public.”

CoA’s FOIA requested:

  1. All records underlying CPSC’s estimate [that small, high-powered magnet sets were associated with 1,700 emergency room-treated injuries between 2009 and 2011].
  2. All records related to the drafting, preparation and clearance of the April 12, 2013 CPSC recall release regarding the recall of Buckyballs® and Buckycubes® by six retailers (CPSC Recall Release 13-168).
  3. All records comprising the monthly progress reports of the six retailers who agreed to participate in the Buckyballs® and Buckycubes® magnet recall that was announced on April 12, 2013 (CPSC Recall Release 13-168).
  4. All records reflecting, regarding or referencing, and all communications between, CPSC staff and Strong Force, Inc. regarding the product marketed as NeoCube magnet sets.
  5. All records generated, downloaded or created by CPSC and/or its staff containing, discussing, reflecting, regarding or referencing expressions of public criticism or concern with respect to:  (1) their conduct concerning the recall of Buckyballs®, Buckycubes®, NeoCube or any other magnet sets, and/or (2) their actions against [M&O] and/or Mr. Craig Zucker.
  6. All records generated, downloaded or created by CPSC and/or its staff referencing or concerning Mr. Craig Zucker.

Read the complaint here.

About Cause of Action:

Cause of Action is a non-profit, nonpartisan government accountability organization that fights to protect economic opportunity when federal regulations, spending and cronyism threaten it. For more information, visit www.causeofaction.org.

To schedule an interview with Cause of Action’s Executive Director Dan Epstein, contact Mary Beth Hutchins,  202-400-2721



Reason: The Feds vs. Craig Zucker

Read the full story: Reason 

In November 2013, with the pro bono backing of the nonprofit government accountability group Cause of Action, Zucker sued the CPSC for what he calls its “unprecedented regulatory overreach.” The suit alleges that the CPSC’s actions are aimed at punishing him for speaking out against the agency. In an emailed statement, CPSC spokesperson Scott Wolfson says “CPSC staff filed this case in order to prevent young children, tweens, and teens from suffering serious injuries,” adding that the agency “is using enforcement, education, and rulemaking to address a serious and hidden hazard with an entire product line.”


Neither case will be resolved anytime soon. In the meantime, Zucker has launched a new line of larger, less ingestible magnets called Liberty Balls, which he is selling to help cover his personal legal fees.

The Hill: Safety commission moves to dismiss Buckyball lawsuit

Read the full story: The Hill’s RegWatch

That’s when the accountability watchdog group Cause of Action stepped in to defend Zucker.


“This case is very much about what reins there are on the government,” Cause of Action Executive Director Dan Epstein said Wednesday in an interview. “The government is essentially saying it can go after former corporate officers (who have done nothing illegal). It sets a dangerous precedent for innovators and entrepreneurs in the United States.”


At issue is the notion of limited liability — whether business owners and corporate officers should be personally responsible for the actions of their companies.


Cause of Action and Zucker fought back with a counter lawsuit that argues the government exceeded and “abused” its authority by going after a business owner — an individual person — who had not broken any laws.

Washington Post: Federal regulators suing Buckyballs founder in rare product-recall case

Read the full story: Washington Post

After Zucker shut down his company, the commission responded by naming him in its lawsuit. The commission supported that move with a legal precedent known as the Park doctrine, which allows the government to criminally prosecute corporate officers for failing to prevent violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.


Critics say it is a misuse of the doctrine. “At a minimum, this action is an obvious overreach of the CPSC’s authority,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action, a conservative legal group backing Zucker. “At a maximum, it is an illegal abuse of power by persons within the commission who seek to punish Mr. Zucker.”

Related Documents: Zucker v. CPSC

Craig Zucker’s Case before the CPSC (not represented by CoA)

May 9, 2014: Craig Zucker and CPSC Settlement

Consent Agreement between Craig Zucker and CPSC

United States District Court for the District of Maryland

NFIB adopts U.S. Chamber Amicus Brief (April 11, 2014)

US Chamber Amicus Brief (April 8, 2014)

Response to Government’s Motion to Dismiss (February 28, 2014)

CPSC Motion to Dismiss (January 14, 2014)

CPSC Memo in Support (January 14, 2014)

Complaint (November 12, 2013)

FOIA Request

FOIA Complaint (April 1, 2014)

FOIA Request to CPSC (November 12, 2013)

Petition for Disclosure and Correction in accordance with the Information Quality Act (IQA)

Information Quality Act Appeal (April 14, 2014)

CPSC Response to IQA Petition (January 10, 2014)

Information Quality Act Petition (November 12, 2013)