Vibram USA settled a class-action lawsuit on Wednesday, filed by a woman who said the company has deceived customers by claiming, without scientific evidence, that its FiveFingers shoe could strengthen foot muscles and decrease injuries.
The minimalist FiveFingers shoe is flat, has no cushioning, and, like a glove for feet, has individual pockets for each toe. As part of the agreement, The Washington Post says, Vibram will pay $3.75 million in refunds — up to $94 to anyone who purchased a pair of the shoes since March 21, 2009. If there is any money left over, it will go to the American Heart Association.
Runner's World reports that not only will the company pay customers, but it must also stop saying that FiveFingers shoes are effective in building up foot muscles and preventing injuries, unless new research supports those statements.
In court papers, Vibram did not admit to "any wrongdoing" or "any actual or potential fault... or liability," The Post reports. In 2012, Skechers announced the company would give out $40 million in refunds to people who bought Shape-ups, advertised as helping boost weight loss and increase muscle tone. Before that, Reebok agreed to a $25 million settlement after the Federal Trade Commission charged that advertisements for their toning shoes misled customers.