Vibram USA, manufacturer of the ubiquitous FiveFingers running shoe, has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit brought against the company.
Lead plaintiff Valerie Bezdek first sued in 2012, stating that Vibram was making false claims about the health benefits of its FiveFingers line. As Runner's World reports, "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."
Although Vibram hasn't admitted to any deceptive practices or any wrongdoing whatsoever, it has agreed to pay $3.75 million into an escrow account, from which claimants can be reimbursed for FiveFingers shoes purchased after March 21, 2009. FiveFingers will reward up to $94 per pair, though similar cases in the past indicate that claimants are unlikely to receive the full amount.
These developments have spawned a fair amount of schadenfreude from those who were skeptical about Vibram's popular product from the start, perhaps feeling that no alleged health benefits could make up for the shoe's aesthetic shortcomings.
With FiveFingers in hot water, will other up-and-coming footwear companies make a surge?