words // Zack Schlemmer

Vibram, makers of the FiveFingers running shoe created to mimic barefoot running, have agreed to settle a class action lawsuit after complaints that the company advertised false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of the footwear, Runner's World reports.

Although mocked by many, the not-so-easy-on-the-eyes barefoot running shoes have received a loyal niche following throughout recent years during the barefoot running craze. The class action lawsuit, originally filed by FiveFinger consumer Valerie Bezdek in 2012 alleges that the company mislead consumers with false claims in their advertisement that the FiveFingers footwear could strengthen foot muscles and reduce injuries—claims that had no scientific backing. Now Vibram has agreed to settle the case, along with two other class action suits absorbed into Bezdek's original suit. However, Vibram denies any wrongdoing in the case, stating that they are settling to avoid any further legal expenses.

According to the settlement, class members can submit a claim to receive a refund up to a maximum of $94 dollars for up to two pairs of FiveFingers shoes. Vibram will also have to discontinue advertisement with claims that the shoes can strengthen muscles or reduce injuries, unless they find scientific evidence to prove it. 

Vibram may not have had scientific merit to back up the alleged benefits of FiveFingers footwear, but there are indeed many runners that swear by the toe shoes (ugly or not).  Do you think the lawsuit was warranted, or should the consumers unhappy with the performance of FiveFingers footwear have just returned their pairs?