Lawsuit Challenges Minimalist Shoemaker’s Claims

April 2, 2012

A company that makes minimalist running shoes featuring pods for each toe faces a federal class action lawsuit in Massachusetts.

The civil complaint against Vibram USA Inc. and Vibram FiveFingers LLC, which has an office in Concord, Mass., says the plaintiffs’ claims exceed $5 million.

The lawsuit says the manufacturer makes deceptive claims about its product’s health benefits.

The complaint says there’s no proof that running in Vibram’s product will improve posture and foot health, promote spine alignment, strengthen muscles and reduce injury risk. It also alleges that running in the footwear, which costs about $80 to $125 a pair, may increase injury risk as compared with running in conventional shoes or barefoot.

“Defendants’ false and misleading advertising campaign has allowed them to reap millions of dollars of profit at the expense of the consumers they have misled,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiff mentioned by name in the lawsuit is a Florida woman who bought a pair of FiveFingers shoes for $104.90 last April through the company’s website.

Vibram officials didn’t return calls seeking comment Friday.

The company, on its website, recommends that people consult a doctor “as with any new sport or activity” to see “if natural running in FiveFingers is right for you.”

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