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Mail-order product spurs suit

As a maintenance worker for Hernando County schools, Michael J. Ordyk spends a lot of time on his feet.

When he saw an advertisement for $19.99 magnetic foot strips "used for years in China, Russia and Japan to help relieve pain and improve circulation," he placed an order. Ordyk said he followed the directions on the package of Magnegizer Foot Strips, carefully placing one in each shoe.

But he said the adhesive pads did not live up to their promise of "inducing current into iron-rich human blood, creating heat that soothes pain and swelling."

Instead, they caused lesions and sores on the balls of his feet, Ordyk said. The problem became so severe that doctors had to amputate the second toe on his left foot and remove additional bones.

Ordyk filed a lawsuit Friday in Hernando Circuit Court against Damark International Inc., a discount mail order company based in Minneapolis. The negligence lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of Ordyk, 55, and his wife, Lydia, 52, of Spring Hill.

Both Ordyk and Joan Kaye, an official with Damark, declined to comment.

Although Damark continues to market the magnets, they are not approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration as required by law, FDA spokeswoman Sharon Snider said.

"A number of years back, there were some applications for magnets to treat various illnesses," Snider said. "They were not approved because we saw no evidence that they were effective."

Several podiatrists contacted Monday, including Dr. Adolph Galinski of the William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago, said they had never heard of magnets being used to cure foot ailments.

"If something as common as that is being touted as the savior of whatever they're touting it for, it's the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Galinski said.

Ordyk spotted the foot strips in the Damark catalog, which the company says was circulated to more than 151-million people in 1994. The foot strip was advertised on the catalog's health page, along with a cordless scalp and neck massager, an eight-piece fragrance set and a personal Shiatsu massager.

The foot strips arrived in the mail in August 1995. A month later, the inserts caused wounds, which infected Ordyk's bones, his attorney said.

"The inserts wounded his feet," said Jack B. McPherson of New Port Richey.

Because of the amputation, Ordyk has to scale back his work hours, McPherson said, and walks with a cane.