A class action lawsuit worth $3.75 million has been settled by Vibram, the company that manufactures the FiveFingers shoes. The lawsuit came about regarding false claims that the shoes yield health benefits, according to Runner’s World.
The shoes have thin soles, are flexible, and cost $100 per pair. They claim to mimic the experience of running with nothing on your feet and help to improve the health of the feet. This is an unsupported claim that was advertised falsely by the company.
Valerie Bezdek filed the lawsuit back in March of 2012. Court filings reveal that Bezdek claimed Vibram used deceptive marketing tactics to falsely advertise the following benefits of wearing the shoes:
(1) Strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs
(2) Improve range of motion in the ankles, feet, and toes
(3) Stimulate neural function important to balance and agility
(4) Eliminate heel lift to align the spine and improve posture
(5) Allow the foot and body to move naturally
“Barefoot running has been touted as improving strength and balance, while promoting a more natural running style,” a statement from the American Podiatric Medicine Association says. “However, risks of barefoot running include a lack of protection, which may lead to injuries such as puncture wounds, and increased stress on the lower extremities.”
Shoes purchased by class action members after March of 2009 can file a claim form to receive a portion of the settlement. They can receive up to $94 per pair of shoes.
Vibram is prohibited from making future claims about any health benefits of its shoes, according to the second portion of the court settlement, but is still permitted to continue its manufacturing of the product.
“Vibram will not make … any claims that FiveFingers footwear are effective in strengthening muscles or preventing injury unless that representation is true, non-misleading and is supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence,” the federal settlement says.