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Federal Judge Orders Zen Magnets to Stop Selling Dangerous Recalled Magnets

Release Date: May 15, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against Zen Magnets, of Denver, Colo., ordering the firm to stop selling recalled and dangerous high-powered magnets.  

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit against Zen Magnets and its owner Shihan Qu on May 5, 2015. The government alleged that Mr. Qu bought 917,000 magnets from Star Networks shortly before Star Networks recalled the magnets and then sold those magnets after they were recalled.  Sale of recalled products is illegal.    

The ruling, which applies to the recalled magnets and magnets Zen commingled with them, stated that Zen Magnets “has essentially turned its pledge to continue to defy the CPSC into a marketing campaign” and has “openly vowed” not to stop selling the recalled magnets absent an injunction.  Finding a substantial likelihood that Zen Magnets had violated the Consumer Product Safety Act, which prohibits the sale of recalled products, the court issued an injunction.

“The Court’s order to stop the ongoing sale of these recalled high-powered magnets is a big victory for the safety of children,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye. “Along with the U.S. Department of Justice, we will continue to move aggressively to enforce the law and protect consumers from the sale of recalled products, especially those that put children at risk.”

“The Justice Department will continue to work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to enforce our consumer protection laws and protect consumers from dangerous products,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Efforts to evade the law and sell products that have already been recalled will not be tolerated.”

The ruling was handed down by federal judge Christine M. Arguello in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

CPSC adopted a rule that went into effect April 1, but was temporarily stayed until April 20, prohibiting the sale of magnets or magnet sets that are small enough to be swallowed and that have a high degree of magnetic attraction.  In issuing that rule, the CPSC noted the risk of injury that the rule addresses.  When a person ingests more than one magnet from a magnet set, there is damage to intestinal tissue, including tissue death.  The magnets are attracted to each other in the digestive system, damaging the tissue that becomes trapped between the magnets.  In many incidents, surgery has been required as the result of magnet ingestion. 

High-powered magnet sets were found to be responsible for the death of a 19-month-old girl and, according to CPSC analysis, an estimated 2,900 emergency room-treated injuries between 2009 and 2013. 

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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