BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Vibram has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit for $3.75 million that claimed the advertising for its glove-line running shoes was false and misleading.
The lawsuit alleged that ads for Vibram USA and Vibram FiveFingers running shoes included claims the shoes were able to reduce foot injuries and strengthen foot muscles and were "deceptive." The shoes "may increase injury risks as compared to running in conventional running shoes, and even when compared to running barefoot," the plaintiffs alleged.
Vibram shall deposit $3.75 million into an escrow, according to the settlement agreement, which was filed May 12 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Class members will receive a refund payment up to $94 for up to two pairs of Vibram FiveFingers shoes, according to the settlement documents.
Counsel will receive an amount that does not exceed 25 percent of the settlement fund, or $937,500, in attorneys' fees and up to $70,000 for out-of-pocket expenses.
Vibram has also agreed to discontinue some aspects of its advertising and marketing campaigns and will make no other statements about the health benefits of FiveFingers in absence of verifiable scientific evidence.
Valerie Bezdek claimed the company misrepresented research on barefoot running.
The 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 2012 complaint stated.
As a result of the defendants' deceptive claims, consumers have purchased a product that has not been proven to perform as advertised, according to the suit.
Bezdek claimed the defendants had been able to charge a significant price premium for FiveFingers over other conventional running shoes.
The defendants consistently misled consumers into thinking there was "scientific research" proving that running in FiveFingers had health benefits that running in conventional running shoes did not provide, according to the suit.
"However...there is no scientific proof supporting defendants' representations," the complaint stated.
Bezdek was seeking compensatory damages with pre-judgment interest. She was represented by Glen DeValerio and Nathaniel L. Orenstein of Berman DeValerio; Janine L. Pollack of Milberg LLP; James C. Shah and Jayne A. Goldstein of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah LLP; Timothy G. Blood of Blood Hurst & O'Reardon LLP; and Michael K. Beck of Gary Roberts & Associates PA.
Vibram USA Inc. and Vibram FiveFingers were represented by Dana Baiocco and Christopher M. Morrison, Jonathon H. Roth and Joseph B. Sconyers of Jones Day; and Andrew C. Ryan and Michael J. Rye of Cantor Colburn LLP.
U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts case number: 1:12-cv-10513
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