Did you buy a pair of Vibram FiveFingers with the promise of injury reduction and muscle strengthening in mind? Many people did. Or at least claim they did. Earlier this week, Vibram settled a class action lawsuit that alleged the company made false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of its minimalist footwear.
The suit claims that Vibram deceived consumers by advertising that their FiveFingers footwear could reduce foot injuries and strengthen foot muscles, all without basing those assertions on any scientific merit. In other words, they received huge economic benefit from making false health claims. Citing the avoidance of further legal expenses, Vibram settled the case even though they continue to deny any wrongdoing.
As a result of the $3.75 million settlement, Vibram must refund anyone who submits a valid claim. If you purchased Vibram FiveFingers between March 21, 2009 and the date of the settlement, you could receive a refund of up to $94 per pair, though it is more realistic you will receive $20-$50 per pair.
You are allowed to submit a claim for up to two pairs of Vibram FiveFingers without a receipt. However, Vibram may request proof of purchase. If you want to receive your money back for more than two pairs, you must submit both a valid claim form and proof of purchase.
Any money remaining from the $3.75 million pot, after claim payments and legal costs, will be donated to the American Heart Association for research on the health benefits of running.
Vibram has agreed to make no further health claims for their FiveFingers footwear in its marketing and advertising campaigns, unless the company discovers scientific evidence to prove it.
To make your own claim, head to the Vibram FiveFingers settlement site for more information. Note—the site is not up and running yet but, Vibram has a legal obligation to do so.
Will this be the final nail in the barefoot running coffin?