May 2014

Vibram settles suit, must pull problem ads

Concord, MA-based Vibram USA agreed in May to settle a class action lawsuit that claimed the company made false advertising claims for its minimalist FiveFingers footwear, which are designed to mimic barefoot running.

At the heart of the lawsuit, which began in 2012 when plaintiff Valerie Bezdek filed a class action suit in Massachusetts federal court, were allegations that Vibram misrepresented the scientific literature on barefoot running, inappropriately claiming its glove-like footwear could improve posture, reduce foot injuries, and strengthen foot muscles.

Under the terms of the settlement Vibram will deposit $3.75 million into an escrow account and distribute funds to class members who purchased a pair of Vibram FiveFingers between March 21, 2009 and the date of the first dissemination of summary settlement notice or class notice, whichever is earlier. The company also agreed to cease its advertising claims regarding injury prevention or health benefits of its FiveFingers footwear unless scientific evidence supports those claims.

Court filings indicate Vibram denied any wrongdoing but agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid additional legal expenses.

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