Maker of Five-Toed Running Shoes Will Pay Millions to Settle Lawsuit

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 8 2014 11:34 AM

Maker of Five-Toed Running Glove-Shoe Things is Paying Big to Settle Suit Over "Unsubstantiated" Health Claims

screen_shot_20140508_at_11.27.02_am
The Bikila EVO model.

Vibram

You know those running shoes, pictured above, that look like sock-gloves made out of a substance you'd use while cleaning a kitchen? They're supposed to emulate the act of running barefoot, and became popular around the same time as other "return to the natural environment" trends like the Paleo Diet. But one of the companies that manufactures them, Vibram, has just agreed to pay $3.75 million and stop making "claims that FiveFingers footwear is effective in strengthening muscles or reducing injury" in a class-action settlement brought on behalf of buyers who felt swindled by "false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits" of the shoes. From Runner's World:

Bezdek alleged that Vibram deceived consumers by advertising that the footwear could reduce foot injuries and strengthen foot muscles, without basing those assertions on any scientific merit. “The gist of her claim is that Vibram illegally obtained an economic windfall from her because it was only by making false health claims that Vibram induced consumers to buy FiveFingers shoes, and to pay more for them than they would have otherwise,” Harvard Law School professor, John C. P. Goldberg, told Runner’s World at the time of the original filing.
Advertisement

Customers who submit valid claims are expected to receive somewhere between $20 and $50 per pair. The company does not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement.

For what it's worth, the following passage still appears on a page of Vibram's website titled "Why Barefoot Works":

Just remember, improving the skill of those muscles then practicing and using those muscles in Vibram FiveFingers® will increase both endurance and strength. This will have profound beneficial effects on your body and wellbeing.

h/t Deadspin

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

How Did the Royals Win Despite Bunting So Many Times? Bunting Is a Terrible Strategy.

Catacombs Where You Can Stroll Down Hallways Lined With Corpses

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?