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

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Global Marches Demand Action on Climate Change

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.