The box had a warning label, but not the product, and unlike drain cleaner the product does not stay in the box, it's designed to be stuck to things.
Furthermore the product looks like a cake decoration, a candy. In addition they then enhanced the buckyball line by introducing a range of candy colours, (oranges, pink, red, blue) from memory, the orange looked particularly delicious. The drugs industry goes to some effort to try to differentiate their pills from candy, buckyball were going in the opposite direction, it was asking for trouble.
Also having watched adults play with buckyballs, they often try and make an earring, so I can imagine the following ,
kid A places a ball either side of their ear "look lets scare mom that I got a peircing"
kid B goes one better and places one either side of their tongue"
I might add I bought some chinese knockoff buckyballs, not a warning label in sight and not buckyballs fault, but a concern for the commission.
Given this I understand why they product was banned, they were potentially dangerous, but in a subtle way that a reasonable person would not have suspected (unlike lawndarts), and a warning on the packaging would not be sufficient in many cases.
However that said going after the company CEO for the price of the recal, that seems unprecedented and draconian, surely the point of a limited liability company is to do just that, limit the liability, if this sets a precedent forget bucky balls but go after CEO's of BP, Philip Morris, James Hardie, that will be fun and games, and see the politicians running to protect their revenue.