'Barefoot Running Shoe' Company Settles Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit for False Health Claims

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By Daniel Joseph Cruz | May 12, 2014 1:29 PM EST

"Vibram USA," makers of the "FiveFingers" runnings shoes settled a class action lawsuit over claims that the company made a false advertisement about the shoe's health benefits. American customers who purchased the FiveFingers pairs are entitled a refund of up to $94 per piece.

Vibram's settlement was the company's way to cease from the issue and avoid any additional legal expenses. Though with the settlement "Vibram expressly denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing alleged in the Actions, and neither admits nor concedes any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability," read the court brief, quoted from Runner's World.

Valerie Bezdek filed the lawsuit in March 2012. Bezdek alleged that Vibram deceived consumers through their false advertising that the footwear yields any health benefit and reducing foot injuries. There followed additional class action suits against Vibram in California and Illinois, strengthening Bezdek's case which later resulted for the company to "concede."

The settlement has two kinds of relief. First is that it refunds to class members who have valid and completed claim forms. Class members can submit up to two pair of shoes even without proof of purchase or receipt. If customers would like to receive a refund for more than two pairs, Vibram would require a valid claim form, or a proof of purchase.

For the second part of the settlement, Vibram won't be allowed to make any further beneficial health claims with the FiveFingers running shoe, unless proven and backed-up by scientific studies.

According to some of the consumers' reactions about the settlement, they enjoyed their experience with the footwear so far. Many loved the footwear product that they said they will make their refund so to buy a new pair of FiveFingers. There were also others who said that the ones who filed the lawsuit were just "money hungry." They continued that it's been normal that people wear shoes that hurt their feet without asking for a huge scale refund. "Seriously? I buy lots of shoes that hurt my feet and I never expect a refund," said Jill Brocklehurst in Runners World comments thread.

Experts noted that Vibram did the right thing as it's cheaper to settle than to win.

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